The Russian Revolution of 1917 transformed the face of the Russian empire, politically, economically, socially, and culturally, and also profoundly affected the course of world history for the rest of the twentieth century. Now, to mark the centenary of this epochal event, historian Steve Smith presents a panoramic account of the history of the Russian empire, from the last years of the nineteenth century, through the First World War and the revolutions of 1917 and the establishment of the Bolshevik regime, to the end of the 1920s, when Stalin simultaneously unleashed violent collectivization of agriculture and crash industrialization upon Russian society. Drawing on recent archivally-based scholarship, Russia in Revolution pays particular attention to the varying impact of the Revolution on the various groups that made up society: peasants, workers, non-Russian nationalities, the army, women and the family, young people, and the Church. In doing so, it provides a fresh way into the big, perennial questions about the Revolution and its consequences: why did the attempt by the tsarist government to implement political reform after the 1905 Revolution fail; why did the First World War bring about the collapse of the tsarist system; why did the attempt to create a democratic system after the February Revolution of 1917 not get off the ground; why did the Bolsheviks succeed in seizing and holding on to power; why did they come out victorious from a punishing civil war; why did the New Economic Policy they introduced in 1921 fail; and why did Stalin come out on top in the power struggle inside the Bolshevik party after Lenin's death in 1924. A final chapter then reflects on the larger significance of 1917 for the history of the twentieth century - and, for all its terrible flaws, what the promise of the Revolution might mean for us today.
I can think of no better overview of the period written in recent years ... No one in Britain is better equipped to write about 1917 than Robert Service and Stephen Smith. Both men have devoted most of their scholarly lives to studying the revolution. They bring to their current works not just vast knowledge but also a deep commitment to balanced judgment, intellectual rigour and honesty, and accessible writing. Dominic Lieven, Financial Times easily digestible ... It is one of Russia in Revolution's merits that the author lays out the scope of contending interpretations and leaves it to his readers to make up their own minds. Robert Service, Times Literary Supplement fluently written and convincingly argued Saul David, Evening Standard A challenging revisionist history reassessing the ongoing significance of the Russian Revolution Smith's work will be declared a subject standard, sure to stand out for its stellar research. Library Journal A master historian of the Russian Revolution, S.A. Smith has wrestled the events and personalities, policies and mass politics of the years 1890 to 1928 into a coherent and compelling story of the entrance of ordinary people onto the stage of history and the brutal, violent descent of Russia into dictatorship. Smith explains better than anyone else how a revolution marked by radical democracy and hope for social justice sacrificed many of its ideals to win and hold power and inspire an international movement against capitalism and imperialism. Ronald Grigor Suny, Distinguished University Professor of History and Political Science, The University of Michigan
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Steve Smith is a historian of modern Russia and China, who was a graduate student at both Moscow State University and at Peking University. He is the author of many books and articles on the Russian and Chinese revolutions, including Red Petrograd: Revolution in the Factories, 1917-18 (CUP, 1983) and Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History (CUP, 2008), and is editor of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism (OUP, 2014). He taught for many years at the University of Essex, where he is an emeritus professor, and then at the European University Institute in Florence, before being elected to a senior research fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, in 2012.