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by Professor Rex A. Wade

Rex Wade presents a new account of one of the pivotal events of modern history, combining his own long study of the revolution with the best of contemporary scholarship. Wade recasts the political history of the revolution while giving due space to its social history. He incorporates people often omitted, including women, national minority peoples, and peasantry front soldiers, enabling a richer and more complete history to emerge. The story is narrated with pace, verve, and exceptional clarity; the chronology, maps and illustrations give further support to the reader.
Download The Russian Revolution, 1917 (New Approaches to European History) epub
ISBN: 0521415489
ISBN13: 978-0521415484
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Professor Rex A. Wade
Language: English
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 10, 2000)
Pages: 358 pages
ePUB size: 1948 kb
FB2 size: 1945 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 605
Other Formats: lit doc mobi mbr

treatment of the "Great Russian Revolution," utilizing recent scholarship and Professor Wade's own rich analysis. Little-appreciated insights abound, such as the unfortunate Alexander Kerensky's blundering actions providing the catalyst for the October "coup."

Yet I withhold the fifth star in this review because I differ with Professor Wade on a couple of important points. He is much too sanguine on the potential of the Constituent Assembly to deal with Russia's problems by the time of its convocation in January of 1918. By late 1917 Russia was far too polarized for any parliamentary regime to fill the breach. For the CA to have been effective it must have been elected as scheduled in the late summer. Past that date, things had gone far beyond its powers. Even had it prevailed, it would still have had to deal with an insurgent left, and to defend itself would have had to rely on the old army to suppress striking workers, rebellious peasants, seceding minorities, mutinous sailors and soldiers, as well as invading Germans: a recipe for right-wing dictatorship. In fact the old army had betrayed Russian parliamentarianism twice: first in the attempted Kornilov putsch of August, 1917, and then by Admiral Kolchak's overthrow of the Constituent Assembly in Exile in Ufa in November, 1918. Interestingly, the Socialist Revolutionary Party leader Victor Chernov had the unenviable distinction of having been overthrown twice in one year by both opposing sides: as president of the CA by the Bolsheviks, and then by Kolchak. The CA's majority consisted of the same moderate socialists whose waffling on the war and popular demands for land and peace had already provoked the "extremes of right and left." Parliamentarianism was too weak and Russia too riven for the CA to have been the happy end suggested by Professor Wade.

Also he posits that anti-Bolsheviks had "no other choice" but to take up arms after the CA's closing. This is patently untrue. The next three years were rife with many non-violent opposition movements, specifically waves of strikes in the cities and industrial centers, as well as non-Bolshevik political opposition in the soviets. That these non-violent protests did not succeed no more counts against them than the failure of armed struggle to unseat the Bolsheviks.

These caveats taken under consideration, I still highly recommend Professor Wade's book as an effective antidote to the cold war historiography which still stereotypes the subject.
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This book is mainly a narrative history of the Russian Revolution in its two stages of February and October and everything in between. Rex Wade, a historian at George Mason University, has given a very accessible and solid summary of the developments, issues and people involved in this work. What's more, the book also pays significant attention to women, peasants, and the various minority nationalities, all groups that tend to be forgotten in the all too Petrograd-centered popular histories of the Revolution.

Wade of course also provides the necessary background, both historically (the emancipation of the serfs, the Revolution of 1905, etc.), and of the structure of the parties, their respective bases of power, and their internal points of strife. He does a great job explaining somewhat complicated issues such as the conflict within the Socialist-Revolutionary party, the basis of the split between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, and the importance of "revolutionary defensism" to the Provisional Government and its subsequent downfall. Wade further shows that contrary to some allegations, the Bolsheviks and their left-radical allies did have a popular majority to overthrow the Provisional Government, though clearly NOT to disperse the Constituent Assembly. He rightfully points this latter act on the part of Lenin, heavily contested even within his own party, as illegitimate and unnecessary, but that the Bolsheviks up to that point had behaved perfectly in accordance with the newly developing soviet system.

"The Russian Revolution, 1917" is an excellent introduction to the history of that fateful year, and recommended for casual readers and beginners interested in the subject. Note that due to the introductory nature of the book, there is very little by way of economic analysis, nor is any significant attention paid to developments in culture.
While at George Mason University I had the honor of taking a class from Dr. Wade while he was writing this book. It turned out as an outstanding effort. Not only is the book scholarly and well researched, it is extremely well written, a rarity for scholarly historical works. Unlike previous books, Dr. Wade gives significant focus on previously overlooked minorities such as women while still maintaining focus on the workers and pesants.