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A comprehensive and meticulously researched history of the revolutionary movement in Russia, from the student strikes of 1899 to the Bolshevik triumph of 1917-18. This 976-page study of the most controversial 20 years in Russian history is likely to become the standard source of reference on the subject and the basis for a new round of scholarly debate on the meaning of""October"" and its aftermath. Pipes, a Harvard historian and noted anticommunist ideologue (Survival Is Not Enough, 1984, etc.), draws on the widest possible range of literature (including numerous memoirs by participants and Soviet monographs based on archival materials) and treats in welcome depth such issues as Russia's efforts to modernize in the first years of the century and its participation in WW I. He is unsurprisingly sympathetic in his treatment of the autocracy and its defenders (like General Kornilov) and unceasingly derisive of the Bolsheviks--providing a good counter to William Henry Chamberlin's authoritative 1935 study of the same title, but sometimes unmindful of the shocking lack of judgment and political leadership that made the Communist victory possible. The writing is lucid and sometimes lively but is broken up by long quotations that will disappoint readers expecting something like Doctor Zhivago. For the academically minded, Pipes's discussion of issues such as the role of intellectuals and the efforts of anciens rÉgimes to reform themselves will be thoroughly absorbing, and the long quotes a welcome opportunity to independently evaluate comparatively inaccessible sources. A remarkable achievement incorporating a lifetime of reading, unlikely to be surpassed before Western researchers are offered unlimited access to the Soviet archives.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1990
Publisher: Knopf