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The Russian Revolution 1899 - 1919. [Paperback]

Richard Pipes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Feb 1992
Presents a comprehensive view of the Russian Revolution embracing not only the political and military struggle for power, but the entire movement, from 1899 to 1919, to revolutionize state and society.

Product details

  • Paperback: 974 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana Press; New edition edition (6 Feb 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006862330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006862338
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 5.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars part of a trilogy. 24 April 2007
i've an honours degree in history and so i've read loads of history books that are very dry and boring.

not so this.

best book ive read on russian revolution by far simply due to it being so easy to read. minimum of pretentious scholarly language/jargon.

flew through the 900 odd pages, which is not something you can say about most history books.

middle part of a trilogy by pipes.

if you only get one book on the revolution get this, pipes is baised, but who cares when its this good, after all its history, they are all biased in their own way.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful and discredited 9 April 2011
The only thing you really need to know about this very long book is that it spends a few paragraphs on the deaths in the First World War, and then forty pages on "The murder of the tsarist royal family". Lenin is shown as a cartoon character who dreamt of tyranny-for-the-fun-of-it since he was a child.

There are many excellent histories of the Russian Revolution. Historians who themselves are quite conservative have written some good ones. But this one is dishonest propaganda which should never have been published.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent history 11 Jan 2014
This is a book thats disparaged by those sympathetic to communism. But don't listen to those ideologues, this is the best history of the Russian Revolution. Does it take a dim view of communists, of course, but then a history of the holocaust is bound to take a dim view of the SS but that doesn't make it wrong, quite the opposite a balanced view of these events would be deceitful. So in a nutshell ignore the ideologues who throw around slanders such as debunked or refuted in lieu of proper argument, this is the best history of the Russian Revolution.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Prof.Richard Pipes' book about the Russian Revolution is a classic.
It follows events, as they unfold, sometimes literally from day to day.
It contains also valuable information, which corrects some widespread belifs, e.g.
concerning the origins of the often neglected February Revolution, the first one.
In fact, it was not initiated by the workers, but by the uprising of the St.Petersburg garrison. Etc.Etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, definitive and poignant in its wisdom 31 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on
As for Russian history, this book is the bible regarding the revolutionary period. For French Revolution fans, here is Russia's version of "citizen" action contructed by diabolical architects who kept France's success always in front of them. As for political science, this book is wise in its interpretation of political action and didactic in its interpretation about this failed expirament in alleged utopianism. Once read one is convinced of Russia's failure in governing and appalled at its deliberate evil perpitrated by a few upon millions who sought and needed true freedom. Prof. Pipes brings home accountability for the actions of afew dangerous men. This book is a brilliant, an enlightening historical study about Russia, history in general and man as a creature who is always seeking power and social control. Pipes clearly reveals that history does repeats itself. And, like Winston Churchill, reveals how good people can understand evil actions if they understand history. Superb, superb, superb.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russia at the Crossroads: Fatalism Reinvented? 16 April 2006
By Wayne Dawson - Published on
The Russian Revolution is a massive chronicle of detailed analysis, forming the middle volume to Pipes trilogy that began with Russia Under The Old Regime and concluded with Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime. This is a thoroughly absorbing work that shows from 1905 every tangled aspect leading up to the murder of the imperial family in July 1918 and start of the Red Terror.

The swirling chaos brought about by the First World War and the Tsar's abdication, simultaneously created a situation of armed Russian troops that were waiting to be mobilised for the eastern front, now suddenly found themselves sitting on the edge of a power vacuum crater within Russia. Once the provisional government that stepped in to fill the void started to slide, many a contending, brutal faction rose to the boil with the odds definitely stacked against the Bolsheviks; a misleading term that means majority when in reality they were a violent minority.

After the Bolshevik coup d' etat, it was the Germans who continued to prop them up, particularly after Lenin and Trotsky had signed away with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk huge amounts of Russian territory as far west as Kiev, enabling Russia to renege on its commitments to the allies who . . . `suffered immense human and material losses. As a result of Russia's dropping out of the war' . . . (only to internationalise the Revolution) . . . `the Germans withdrew from the inactive Eastern Front enough divisions to increase their effectives in the west by nearly one-fourth (from 150 to 192 divisions). These reinforcements allowed them to mount a ferocious offensive' . . . the allies . . . `lost hundreds of thousands of men. This sacrifice finally brought Germany to her knees. And the defeat of Germany, to which it had made no contribution . . . enabled the Soviet Government to annul the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and recover most of the lands which it had been forced to give up'. . . No other ruler in Russian history conceded so much territory as Lenin had. This, along with heavier taxes than under Tsarist times and multiplying murders against so called `counter-revolutionaries' made the Bolsheviks immediately unpopular.

Here we have a constantly fascinating account teeming with every sort of personality and unpredictable event. We read about the fracturing succession of the Ukraine, Trans Caucasia (Georgia and Armenia) and (almost) Siberia into transient independent Republics with a startling sense of deja vu; it now seems the 1990's was a variation on a pre-existing theme. Whilst one of Pipes many themes, implicit in the titles Old Regime and Bolshevik Regime, claims that the all encompassing `patrimonial' system under Tsarist times precluded any sense of private property (everything physical and human belonged, within Russia, to the Tsar) and with the Bolshevik development of the one party state, `patrimonial' autocratic control continued; this has been keenly contradicted by several scholars but should not get in the way of an outstanding, breathtaking achievement by a single individual where so much has been given its proper perspective.

Pipes also argues most convincingly that the `antecedents' to Stalinism had been mapped out by Lenin. The sorcerers apprentice intensified what had already begun. The last word belongs to Pipes and is indicative of this great work in helping us understand the incomprehensible . . . `Once society disintegrated into an agglomeration of human atoms, each fearful of being noticed and concerned exclusively with physical survival, then it ceased to matter what society thought, for the government had the entire sphere of public activity to itself. Only under these conditions could a small minority subjugate millions.'
54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Antidote to Soviet Apologia 22 April 1999
By Allan from San Francisco - Published on
It's amazing how many histories of the USSR or the Russian Revolution will gloss over the waves of terror they initiated, or imply that this terror was "necessary," or speak of it in the same phlegmatic way that one would describe routine events. This makes a stark contrast to the way that moral indignation is NOT withheld from histories of Nazi Germany. Professor Pipes should be commended for expressing moral indignation about inexcusable and unnecessary tyranny and bloodshed, just as William L. Shirer deserves commendation for telling the story of Nazi Germany the way it really happened. (Did this mean that Shirer was "biased"? If he had downplayed the Nazi terror and devoted hundreds of pages to Nazi "accomplishments" such as full employment, would this have been an accurate and meaningful account of the Third Reich?) Indeed, the fact that Pipes' book attracts criticism from intellectuals for having revealed the true face of Lenin's Bolsheviks and the Soviet government they installed--in all its ruthlessness, depravity, and mendacity--is strong proof that his book's focus on the role of depraved intellectuals and depraved theories in the establishment of the USSR is right on the money. As Pipes pointed out, one of its founding ideas can be traced back to Rousseau--the idea that man is a mere creature of his "environment," and therefore completely malleable. This amounts to an engraved invitation to bloodthirsty monsters like Lenin and Stalin to start thinking that mankind should be forced to become "good," regardless of the human cost. It's sad that intellectuals--those ceaseless announcers of irony--haven't spotted the irony here: policies that necessitate bloodshed are not "good" and cannot lead to "good."
Another valuable contribution of this book is that the author is not afraid to show that Bolshevism was the creation of the upper-middle-class intelligentsia, not the workers or the peasants, and served the interests of the intelligentsia, not the lower classes.
Pipes' book should be read by every person interested in history who is not afraid to be shown that ideas have consequences, and that these are often inexcusably horrible.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunks Soviet mythology 8 July 2007
By Robert Fishman - Published on
It is a shame that such historians as Richard Pipes do not have a more prominent place on America's college campuses. His detailed account of the Russian Revolution convincingly debunks the long-held view that the Russian Revolution was somehow an expression of popular sentiments. Instead, it was, as Pipes calls it, a coup d'etat, led by a small group of hard-core revolutionaries. He convincingly demonstrates how this Bolshevik coup was quickly carried out by taking Petrograd's major transportation and communication hubs. By this point, the Provisonal Government was largely irrelevant, and few shots were actually fired! Not at all a repeat of the storming of the Bastille (itself something of a myth). Pipes also goes into a detailed discussion of the Bolsheviks' policies of War Communism and rule-by-terror. In so doing, Pipes argues that these policies were deliberately orchestrated to subjugate the Russian people (as opposed to being necessary wartime measures, which is often used as an apology for these policies). There are two things that Pipes discusses that are particularly interesting: the degree to which the Imperial German govt. sought to cultivate relations with the Bolsheviks in an effort to take over Russia and close down the Eastern Front and Lenin's ongoing protestations that the "Bolsheviks" were a private entity within Russia and therefore did not at all represent "offical" govt. policy. The latter allowed the Russian govt. to get around norms of international law and attempt to export Bolshevism to other areas of Europe. This duplicity served as a model for later totalitarian regimes to follow (check out Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran for evidence of this). On a final note, Pipes demonstrates how the horrors of Stalinism had definite roots in the formative years of Bolshevik Russia (i.e., the all-pervasive Cheka and the "forced requisitions" against the peasants). I think that many people forget this fact and want to believe that Stalin was somehow an aberration within the Soviet system.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, deep, but uneven 19 Oct 2003
By Kindle Customer - Published on
This is an excellent overview of the Russian Revolution. Pipes does an excellent job of distilling the different factions involved, and constructing the worldviews of those involved. The dichotomy between the outlook of the aristocracy and peasants was particularly good--much of the revolution's course was explained there.
Throughout, I think Pipes did a good job of balancing the big picture with the details that are necessary to understand what was happening in such a large country at the time. His writing style varies somewhat throughout the different chapters, but on the whole was engaging and lively.
I have only two (minor) complaints, hence 4 stars instead of 5. The first complaint is that the book ends around a chapter too soon. The civil war is left out almost entirely, and in general the book ended with many loose ends, without even a quick summary of what followed in history. This is not a problem for the scholar, but to a casual reader (like myself) it feels a bit abrupt.
The second complaint, as others have noted, is Pipes' bias. When I got to Chapter 3 I started laughing out loud, and I wondered at first if it was written by someone else. Suddenly the objective writing style becomes full of venom for the "intelligentsia." Pipes' contempt is a constant theme throughout the remainder of the book, to the point where I wasn't sure how much I could trust some of his observations.
This is still a great book. But I do wish Pipes had remained more objective--the atrocious record of the Bolshevik party's early years speaks for itself.
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