For those without the energy or leisure to digest Pipes's magisterial history of revolutionary Russia (Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 1994; The Russian Revolution, 1990), the author has distilled his arguments concerning several key questions: Why did tsarism fall? Why did the Bolsheviks triumph? Why did Stalin succeed Lenin? The book, based on lectures given at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, has a nicely colloquial feel, clarity, and vigor. At the heart of the answers to the first two questions is Pipes's assertion that, far from being the product of large, impersonal forces of history, the fall of the tsar and the rise to power of the Bolsheviks (in, he reminds us, a coup d'Çtat largely unsupported by the Russian people) were the result of the old regime's clear failings and Lenin's genius for manipulation and appetite for total power. Stalin succeeded Lenin, Pipes asserts, because Lenin had so successfully suppressed all elements of democracy that no alternatives were possible. There's little new here, but the volume does offer a concise and eminently straightforward summary of current research on the rise and nature of Communism in Russia.