Written in a narrative style that captures both the scope and detail of the Russian revolution, Orlando Figes' history is certain to become one of the most important contemporary studies of Russia as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. With an almost cinematic eye, Figes captures the broad movements of war and revolution, never losing sight of the individuals whose lives make up his subject. He makes use of personal papers and personal histories to illustrate the effects the revolution wrought on a human scale, while providing a convincing and detailed understanding of the role of workers, peasants, and soldiers in the revolution. He moves deftly from topics such as the grand social forces and mass movements that made up the revolution to profiles of key personalities and representative characters.
Figes' themes of the Russian revolution as a tragedy for the Russian people as a whole and for the millions of individuals who lost their lives to the brutal forces it unleashed make sense of events for a new generation of students of Russian history. Sympathy for the charismatic leaders and ideological theorising regarding Hegelian dialectics and Marxist economics--two hallmarks of much earlier writing on the Russian revolution--are banished from these clear-eyed, fair-minded pages of A People's Tragedy. The author's sympathy is squarely with the Russian people. That commitment, together with the benefit of historical hindsight, provides a standpoint Figes can take full advantage of in this masterful history.
"A memorably good book... A People's Tragedy
combines dramatic power, absorbing narrative and magisterial scholarship - a magnificent tour de force.
" (Christopher Andrew Sunday Telegraph
"I doubt if there is anyone in the world who knows the revolution as well as he does." (Norman Stone Sunday Times
"Written with verve and enlivened by anecdote, this is a comprehensive, fair minded account... Figes' main objective is to put the masses back in their rightful place, and this he has triumphantly done... Profoundly researched, brilliantly written, full of wit, wisdom and humanity. It is by far the best history of the Russian Revolution I have ever read" (Frank McLynn Glasgow Herald
"This books is not just a history; it is an item of history... Orlando Figes has taken the chance to display the very experience of revolution as it affected millions of ordinary Russians." (Neal Ascherson Independent on Sunday
"It balances big ideas with vivid personal histories and must be the most moving account of the Russian Revolution since Doctor Zhivago
." (Lucasta Miller Independent