A wide-ranging overview of the bitter and bloody civil war that wracked Russia in the wake of its 1917 revolution and WW I defeat. Lincoln (The Romanovs, In War's Dark Shadow, Passage through Armageddon, et al.) recounts how Lenin and his comrades overcame crushing odds to found a state whose government ""spoke in the name of the people but acted in the interest of the Communist Party."" At the outset of the 1918-21 struggle, however, there was scant assurance that the Bolsheviks, beset on several fronts, would survive, much less prevail. To do so, they had to vanquish a host of indigenous foes, plus troops from 14 foreign countries (including the US) and nearly a dozen nationalist groups seeking to establish independent regimes in territories once part of imperial Russia. Reorganized by Trotsky, the Red Army nonetheless wrested control of the revolution from White forces, winning Russia for the Soviet system. The triumph's cost was dear. Before the internecine strife ended, executions, famine, and pestilence--together With hundreds of pitched battles--levied a toll roughly three times that of the more than seven million lives lost during the 1914-18 period. Though often overlooked, the devastating civil war (which, among other outcomes, permitted Stalin's rise to power) represents an important chapter in Russian history. Lincoln argues persuasively that an appreciation of its dread heritage is essential to understand the latter-day USSR. An accessible, frequently absorbing account of this consequential conflict's shattering course. The 640-page text has photographs and a glossary (not seen).