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The Soviet Military Experience: A History of the Soviet Army, 1917-1991: A History of the Soviet Army, 1917-91 (Warfare and History) [Paperback]

Roger R. Reese
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

23 Dec 1999 Warfare and History
The Soviet Military Experience is the first general work to place the Soviet army into its true social, political and international contexts.
It focuses on the Bolshevik Party's intention to create an army of a new type, whose aim was both to defend the people and propagate Marxist ideals to the rest of the world. It includes discussion of the:
* origins of the Workers and Peasant's Red Army
* effects of the Civil War
* Bolshevik regime's use of the military as a school of socialism
* effects of collectivization and rapid industrialisation of the 1920s and 1930s
* Second World War and its profound repercussions
* ethnic tensions within the army
* effect of Gorbachev's policies of Glasnost and Perestroika

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (23 Dec 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415217202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415217200
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 14.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,524,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The author of this book has set for himself the extraordinarily ambitious task of describing the Soviet states' efforts to create a fundamentally new type of army and argues that the effort, in the end, failed. He makes interesting use of Soviet archival materials to support his argument and at times shines new light on hitherto little-known, but important, aspects of Soviet military manpower policy and morale.... Even 10 years after the theoretical opening of the Soviet archives to Western researchers, relatively few scholars have attempted to revise our understanding of Soviet history using those sources. Roger R. Reese is to be greatly commended for his efforts in that regard.."
"This book is a marvelous supplement to academic texts on Soviet life; no other author in recent years has tackled he same information in one historical sweep. Recommended for academic libraries."
-"Library Journal, 11/99

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First Sentence
Following the successful destruction of the Provisional Government, Lenin highjacked the Second Congress of Soviets from the moderate left and shifted his focus from revolution to consolidating and retaining power. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I found this a good, well written account of the development of the RKKA (Workers' and Peasants' Red Army). It is not so much about the warfare, as the socio-political aspects of what a Soviet Army should be for and how it should be organised. It starts off with the battle between those who believed in a people's militia and Trotsky, who wanted a professional army and then looks at how it grew in size - to the detriment of its fighting ability.
The book contains some interesting facts: on Stalin's purge of the officer class, bullying in the army and drafting methods, for example. However, the book is overloaded with figures - I am sceptical of Soviet statistics at best - and some of his statements strike me as a bit generalised.
Ultimately, while this is an interesting book, I do not think it does what it says it does. I was left confused as to what happened to the Tsarist Army - it just seems to disappear! - and where the White Army sprang from. It seems as though they were former Tsarist officers and soldiers, but this is not explained explicitly. Similarly, I am still very confused as to the relationship between Party, State, RKKA and KGB (and its previous incarnations). The book says that the RKKA was the Party's army, but I thought that the KGB was that; I read elsewhere that the KGB protected the party leadership from the only rival power base - the RKKA. Rivalry between the KGB and RKKA is barely mentioned. Also, there is no mention of whether other state departments had their own troops, such as the present MVD (Interior Ministry) and the significance of this, particularly as the KGB (in a previous form) was subsumed within the NKVD (Interior Ministry, I think) for some time.
This book is an easy read and a useful introduction, but it also raises as many questions as it answers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of Red Army 24 Jun 2004
By Andrew Fair - Published on
Dr. Reese does an outstanding job in finding the middleground between the political, operational, and anecdotal history of the Soviet military. An immense amount of knowledge is ably condensed into a relatively swift read and his analysis of the early years of the Red Army is especially well done. The only book is only lacking in its examination of the mid-late Cold War years, which he covers very fast, but all in all a very good book, a must-read for anyone interested in the USSR's military history.
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