YEAR ONE OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION by Victor Serge
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YEAR ONE OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A splendid narrative of the year following the October Revolution. Serge, an anarchist turned Bolshevik, is known through his memoirs as a highly gifted writer. This book, written in the late '20's, narrates the desperate crises suffered by the new worker-republic -- the actively counterrevolutionary efforts of the party of Kerensky, strikes and sabotage by anti-Bolshevik workers, the opposition of the urban middle classes and the White threat. The separate peace with the Germans, and debate surrounding it, are described with emphasis on the economic wealth lost through Brest-Litovsk, though Serge upholds Lenin's advocacy of the treaty. The summer of 1918 marked the end of the worker-peasant alliance and, after the arrival of the Anglo-French expedition and the victories of the Czech counter-revolutionaries, famine gave rise to outright class war in the countryside. The Soviet republic was ""surrounded, starving, and infested with conspiracies,"" and after September the Red Terror became permanent. Serge eloquently underlines the defensive character of the terror, contrasting the Bolsheviks' early leniency with the Whites' indiscriminate slaughter. Serge's view of the party will draw arguments -- especially his Leninist insistence that the center leadership expresses the party, and the party the masses -- but the book as a whole convincingly presents the idea that it was the pressure of events, not dogma nor sheer lust for power, that made the Bolsheviks the sole wielder of the workers' dictatorship. Peter Sedgwick's introduction provides subtle and extensive discussion of these questions. Serge himself was purged in 1928 and left the Soviet Union in 1936. The book is illustrated with a great many helpful photographs. An essential documentary reference, exuberantly partisan and rich in material.

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1972
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston