Is there a book we’re missing? Please submit it here.
Extensive bibliography on the Russian Revolution from Christopher Read at Warwick University.
New and Upcoming Books
Upcoming: The Russian Revolution, 4th Edition
Oxford University Press
The Russian Revolution had a decisive impact on the history of the twentieth century. In the years following the collapse of the Soviet regime and the opening of its archives, it has become possible to step back and see the full picture. Starting with an overview of the roots of the revolution, Fitzpatrick takes the story from 1917, through Stalin’s “revolution from above”, to the great purges of the 1930s. She tells a gripping story of a Marxist revolution that was intended to transform the world, visited enormous suffering on the Russian people, and, like the French Revolution before it, ended up by devouring its own children.
This updated edition contains a fully revised bibliography and updated introduction to address the centenary, what does it all mean in retrospect.
Red Flag Unfurled: History, Historians, and the Russian Revolution
Ronald Grigor Suny
Reflecting on the fate of the Russian Revolution one hundred years after October, Ronald Grigor Suny—one of the world’s leading historians of the period—explores the historiographical controversies over 1917, Stalinism, and the end of “Communism” and provides an assessment of the achievements, costs, losses and legacies of the choices made by Soviet leaders. While a quarter century after the disintegration of the USSR, the story usually told is one of failure and inevitable collapse, Suny reevaluates the promises, missed opportunities, achievements, and colossal costs of trying to build a kind of “socialism” in the inhospitable environment of peasant Russia. He ponders what lessons 1917 provides for Marxism and the alternatives to capitalism and bourgeois democracy.
Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge
St. Martin’s Press
Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in October, Petrograd (the former St Petersburg) was in turmoil – felt nowhere more keenly than on the fashionable Nevsky Prospekt. There, the foreign visitors who filled hotels, clubs, offices and embassies were acutely aware of the chaos breaking out on their doorsteps and beneath their windows. Among this disparate group were journalists, diplomats, businessmen, bankers, governesses, volunteer nurses and expatriate socialites. Many kept diaries and wrote letters home: from an English nurse who had already survived the sinking of the Titanic; to the black valet of the US Ambassador, far from his native Deep South; to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had come to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women’s Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareva.
Helen Rappaport draws upon this rich trove of material, much of it previously unpublished, to carry us right up to the action – to see, feel and hear the Revolution as it happened to an assortment of individuals who suddenly felt themselves trapped in a “red madhouse.”
Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921
Oxford University Press
In this monumental and sweeping new account, Laura Engelstein delves into the seven years of chaos surrounding 1917 –the war, the revolutionary upheaval, and the civil strife it provoked. These were years of breakdown and brutal violence on all sides, punctuated by the decisive turning points of February and October. As Engelstein proves definitively, the struggle for power engaged not only civil society and party leaders, but the broad masses of the population and every corner of the far-reaching empire, well beyond Moscow and Petrograd.
Russia in Flames offers a compelling narrative of heroic effort and brutal disappointment, revealing that what happened during these seven years was both a landmark in the emancipation of Russia from past oppression and a world-shattering disaster. As regimes fall and rise, as civil wars erupt, as state violence targets civilian populations, it is a story that remains profoundly and enduringly relevant.
The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921
Mark D. Steinberg
Oxford University Press
The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 is a new history of Russia’s revolutionary era as a story of experience-of people making sense of history as it unfolded in their own lives and as they took part in making history themselves. The major events, trends, and explanations, reaching from Bloody Sunday in 1905 to the final shots of the civil war in 1921, are viewed through the doubled perspective of the professional historian looking backward and the contemporary journalist reporting and interpreting history as it happened. The volume then turns toward particular places and people: city streets, peasant villages, the margins of empire (Central Asia, Ukraine, the Jewish Pale), women and men, workers and intellectuals, artists and activists, utopian visionaries, and discontents of all kinds.
Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928
S. A. Smith
Oxford University Press
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, the revolutions of 1917, and the establishment of the Bolshevik regime, to the end of the 1920s when Stalin unleashed violent collectivization of agriculture and crash industrialization upon Russian society.
Was Revolution Inevitable?: Turning Points of the Russian Revolution
Oxford University Press
Communism’s rise and eventual fall in Eastern Europe is one of the great stories of the 20th century. Within this context, the Russian Revolution’s role and legacy overshadows all else. In Was Revolution Inevitable?, former British Ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton has gathered essays by leading historians to trace the events that led to the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and to pinpoint moments when those events could have unfolded in a drastically different way. What would the world be like had Fanny Kaplan succeeded in assassinating Vladimir Lenin in 1918? What if the Bolsheviks had never imposed the brutal “War Communism” initiatives that devastated the Russian peasants? What if Rasputin had talked Nicholas II out of involvement in World War One, which effectively led to the Revolution and sealed the demise of the Romanov dynasty?
Living the Revolution: Urban Communes & Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932
Oxford University Press
Living the Revolution offers insight into the world of the early Soviet activists. At the heart of this book are a cast of fiery-eyed, bed-headed youths determined to be the change they wanted to see in the world. First banding together in the wake of the October Revolution, seizing hold of urban apartments, youthful enthusiasts tried to offer practical examples of socialist living. Calling themselves ‘urban communes’, they embraced total equality and shared everything from money to underwear. They actively sought to overturn the traditional family unit, reinvent domesticity, and promote a new collective vision of human interaction. A trend was set: a revolutionary meme that would, in the coming years, allow thousands of would-be revolutionaries and aspiring party members to experiment with the possibilities of socialism.
A Prison Without Walls?: Eastern Siberian Exile in the Last Years of Tsarism
Oxford University Press
A Prison Without Walls? presents a snapshot of daily life for exiles and their dependents in eastern Siberia during the very last years of the Tsarist regime, from the 1905 revolution to the collapse of the Tsarist regime in 1917. This was an extraordinary period in Siberia’s history as a place of punishment. There was an unprecedented rise of Siberia’s penal use in this fifteen-year window, and a dramatic increase in the number of exiles punished for political offences. This work focuses on the region of Eastern Siberia, taking the regions of Irkutsk and Yakutsk in north-eastern Siberia as its focal points. Siberian exile was the antithesis of Foucault’s modern prison. The State did not observe, monitor, and control its exiles closely; often not even knowing where the exiles were. Exiles were free to govern their daily lives; free of fences and free from close observation and supervision, but despite these freedoms, Siberian exile represented one of Russia’s most feared punishments.
A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. The spectre of the lustful Siberian holy man and peasant still casts its eerie shadow over Russia’s bloody twentieth century. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra’s confidant and guardian of the sickly heir to the throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet. Even during his lifetime Rasputin was shrouded in myth and his true story remains obscure today. Douglas Smith’s Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the true life of one of history’s most alluring figures. Rasputin draws on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries and is the most thoroughly researched biography ever written. Demolishing the caricature of the holy devil, Smith’s account presents Rasputin in all his complexity – man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. More than just the story of an extraordinary life, Rasputin offers a fascinating portrait of the twilight of Imperial Russia as it lurched towards catastrophe.
Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932
Royal Academy Publications
This volume accompanies the Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932 Royal Academy exhibition from 11 February to 17 April 2017, a survey of the entire artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia as it flourished in every way and the possibilities for the future seemed infinite.
Featuring renowned artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko alongside photography, film, propaganda posters, ration coupons and original Soviet porcelain, Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932 displays the transition from a bright optimism to Lenin’s final assessment that “Art for me is a just an appendage, and when its use as propaganda – which we need at the moment – is over, we’ll cut it out as useless: snip, snip!”
1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution
1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution is a collection of literary responses to one of the most cataclysmic events in modern world history, which exposes the immense conflictedness and doubt, conviction and hope, pessimism and optimism which political events provoked among contemporary writers – sometimes at the same time, even in the same person. This dazzling panorama of thought, language and form includes work by authors who are already well known to the English-speaking world (Bulgakov, Pasternak, Akhmatova, Mayakovsky), as well as others, whose work we have the pleasure of encountering here for the very first time in English.
Edited by Boris Dralyuk, the acclaimed translator of Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (also published by Pushkin Press), 1917 includes works by some of the best Russian writers – some already famous in the English-speaking world, some published here for the very first time. It is an anthology for everyone: those who are coming to Russian literature for the first time, those who are already experienced students of it, and those who simply want to know how it felt to live through this extreme period in history.
The Russian Revolution: A New History
In The Russian Revolution, historian Sean McMeekin traces the origins and events of the Russian Revolution, which ended Romanov rule, ushered the Bolsheviks into power, and changed the course of world history. Between 1900 and 1920, Russia underwent a complete and irreversible transformation: by the end of these two decades, a new regime was in place, the economy had collapsed, and over 20 million Russians had died during the revolution and what followed. Still, Bolshevik power remained intact due to a remarkable combination of military prowess, violent terror tactics, and the failures of their opposition. And as McMeekin shows, Russia’s revolutionaries were aided at nearly every step by countries like Germany and Sweden who sought to benefit—politically and economically—from the chaotic changes overtaking the country.
The Russian Revolution, 1917
Rex A. Wade
Cambridge University Press
Rex A. Wade presents an essential overview of the Russian Revolution from its beginning in February 1917, through the numerous political crises under Kerensky, to the victory of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. This thoroughly revised and expanded third edition introduces students to new approaches to the Revolution’s political history and clears away many of the myths and misconceptions that have clouded studies of the period. It also gives due space to the social history of the Revolution, incorporating people and places too often left out of the story, including women, national minority peoples, peasantry, and front soldiers. The third edition has been updated to include new scholarship on topics such as the coming of the Revolution and the beginning of Bolshevik rule, as well as the Revolution’s cultural context. This highly readable book is an invaluable guide to one of the most important events of modern history.
The Last of the Tsars
In March 1917, Nicholas II, the last Tsar of All the Russias, abdicated and the dynasty that had ruled an empire for three hundred years was forced from power by revolution. Now, on the hundredth anniversary of that revolution, Robert Service, the eminent historian of Russia, examines Nicholas’s reign in the year before his abdication and the months between that momentous date and his death, with his family, in Ekaterinburg in July 1918.
The Last of the Tsars is a masterful study of a man who was almost entirely out of his depth, perhaps even willfully so. It is also a compelling account of the social, economic and political foment in Russia in the aftermath of Alexander Kerensky’s February Revolution, the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 and the beginnings of Lenin’s Soviet republic.
Governing Post-Imperial Siberia and Mongolia, 1911–1924
The governance arrangements put in place for Siberia and Mongolia after the collapse of the Qing and Russian Empires were highly unusual, experimental and extremely interesting. The Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic established within the Soviet Union in 1923 and the independent Mongolian People’s Republic established a year later were supposed to represent a new model of transnational, post-national governance, incorporating religious and ethno-national independence, under the leadership of the coming global political party, the Communist International. The model, designed to be suitable for a socialist, decolonised Asia, and for a highly diverse population in a strategic border region, was intended to be globally applicable. This book, based on extensive original research, charts the development of these unusual governance arrangements, discusses how the ideologies of nationalism, socialism and Buddhism were borrowed from, and highlights the relevance of the subject for the present day world, where multiculturality, interconnectedness and interdependency become ever more complicated.
The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution
Princeton University Press
The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Grossman’s Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine’s gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin’s purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives of Bolshevik true believers, the book begins with their conversion to Communism and ends with their children’s loss of faith and the fall of the Soviet Union.
Drawing on letters, diaries, and interviews, and featuring hundreds of rare photographs, The House of Government weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and fascinating new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror. The result is an unforgettable human saga of a building that, like the Soviet Union itself, became a haunted house, forever disturbed by the ghosts of the disappeared.