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50 of 91 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unscrupulous depiction of bolsheviks as cold-blooded despots., 10 Oct. 2007
This review is from: A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924 (Paperback)
One small example of the problems with Figes' book, small but typical : on pages 631-632 we are treated with the horrendous shooting of Bim-Bom, the clown who dared mock the bolsheviks, at the hands of the Cheka bursting onto the circus in the middle of the comedian's act.

Except that a small amount of research would have made Figes aware that Bim-Bom was not a single clown but a duet, and that no such assassination took place : on the contrary the founder of this famous duet ("Bim" real name Ivan Semenovich Radunskim) died in 1955 after a long career.

But hey ! Why let facts get in the way of a good scene ?
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Sep 2008 14:16:15 BDT
elsewhere says:
is this supposed to be a criticism of an entire book?

Posted on 15 Apr 2009 11:56:26 BDT
If this example is typical, why quote a story involving the death of just one man? Why not ones like the account somewhere in the book of someone misinterpreting a cross, next to a note about several hundred people on a document, as an instruction to kill them? The cross actually just indicated that this part of the document had been read (by Lenin, I'm pretty sure).

The Bolsheviks weren't all cold-blooded despots, and I doubt you can give any quote where Figes says they were. But he does show you how it was possible for the most important ones to end up that way, and for that cross to be misinterpreted.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2009 09:12:37 BDT
E. Love says:
How very pathetic to comment on such a tiny aspect of the book.
You are critcising him as if you could write a Marathon (widely regarded as the best book on the Russian Revolution out) on your own!
His years of painstaking research and writing are to be discounted then just because of one mistake?
I am disgusted!

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2010 18:46:04 BDT
jazz Wallah says:
This is not the 'best book' on the Russian Revolution. That honour belongs to Trotsky's epic. Of course, Figes' underlying position is that 'human nature' will eventually betray any revolution, so let's all just give up. Funny how these aristo types are fascinated by 'revolution' - is it because they 'comprehend theoretically the break up of capitalism' as M&E pointed out in the Manifesto. Somehow I don't think so. By the way I am not now nor have ever been married to the 'author'.....

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2010 22:37:33 BDT
A. Smith says:
Well, it's all about opinions, isnt it, jah. I guess you come at it from a "leftish" viewpoint. Incidentally, whatever happened to yer man Leon ? Nice little barb about the author, tho !

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 13:00:31 GMT
Germinal says:
I'll add a comment without having read the book.

I have read a number of reviews of Figes' 'A People's Tragedy' and noticed a pattern: if the reviewer is new to the Russian Revolution, then they think it a splendid book. If the reviewer is a specialist in the field, they think it a bit dodgy.

I have read widely on the Russian Revolution. On two occasions I have dipped into Figes in order to check facts or see how he deals with particular issues. One was the massacre at the Kremlin Arsenal in October 1917 - Figes doesn't mention it. The second was the war between the Soviet Govt and the Ukrainian Rada in Dec 1917, again Figes doesn't mention it.

I would need a confidence boost before starting on the book, quite frankly.

Posted on 15 Apr 2011 13:11:06 BDT
Eyrie says:
The Bolsheviks were cold-blooded despots. They were also hot-blooded and sadistic. The facts would speak for themselves in millions, except that so many of them were murdered.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2011 13:40:38 BDT
Well I do not fit your arguement. I have read widely on the Russian revolution and no book comes close to capturing its true nature as this one

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2011 13:42:20 BDT
Orlando Figes is not a aristo as you put it. Get your facts right please

Posted on 16 Dec 2011 11:54:29 GMT
...so what happened to Bom?
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