Review by Choice Review
The 67 essays in this collection were written by 46 leading scholars from around the world. The essays are divided into seven major sections that deal not only with leading personalities, parties, and events but also institutions, economic issues, social groups, and nationalities. The treatment of institutional and social history (e.g., armies, aristocrats, Cossacks, industrialists, peasants, the press, the Orthodox Church, schools, trade unions, women, workers) is especially impressive. Almost a decade ago George Jackson and Robert Devlin edited the valuable Dictionary of the Russian Revolution (CH, Jan'90), to which many of the same scholars represented here also contributed. That earlier volume contained more but shorter selections. However, it included none by authors living in the Soviet Union, whereas more than one-fifth of the essays in Critical Companion were written by scholars living in Russia. The present work also reflects post-Soviet scholarship. Maps, bibliographical suggestions, and two thorough indexes (name and subject). Recommended for all libraries. W. G. Moss Eastern Michigan University
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Review by Library Journal Review
The three editors of this massive volumeActon (modern European history, Univ. of East Anglia, Norwich), Vladimir Iu. Cherniaev (Inst. of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg), and William G. Rosenburg (modern Russian and Soviet history, Univ. of Michigan)have collected here 68 entries from 46 leading historians about the Russian Revolution. While all works on this topic appearing in the past five or six years (e.g., Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy, Viking, 1997, pap., and Richard Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, LJ 10/1/95) claim to use newly opened Soviet archives, the difference, claimed by Acton, is that those authors were slaves of the old historical wavereaction to Soviet invented historyresurrected in the early 1980s as the traditional Western view. This new volume breaks the mold of the anti-Soviet paradigm. Recommended for academic libraries.Harry V. Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. System, Iola (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
One of the most comprehensive surveys of the new information becoming available about the Russian Revolution and of the new interpretations of the revolutionary period. The conventional interpretations have tended to be sharply divergent; the Soviet emphasis on the valiant party of the workers versus the Western emphasis on the role of the Bolsheviks in snuffing out democracy and establishing a one-party state. This survey hardly exposes the ``glaring inadequacies'' of the ``traditional Western view,'' as Acton (History/Univ. of East Anglia) argues. Indeed, there is much here that thoroughly supports that view (including Orlando Figes's research on the peasant revolts against the Bolsheviks). But more important, the collection supplies an abundance of evidence that enriches our understanding of the period: the differences of opinion within the Bolshevik Party, of which even Lenin had to take account, the pressures on Nicholas II (Dominic Lieven notes that by 1917 the tsar was showing signs of physical and mental collapse--not surprising, he argues, when ``even tough professional Western politicians seldom survive in top office above a decade''). Perhaps the biggest single divergence with the Western view is the growing belief among historians that the Bolsheviks won because they articulated the yearnings of the mass of the Russian population better than anyone else, rather than because they were better organized. That close relationship did not last long, and the Bolsheviks abandoned their promises as soon as they could, but, when combined with their ruthless cruelty, it was enough to entrench them in power. No book of essays is an easy read, and there are inevitably some weak spots, including contributors who have nothing new to say, but this is a wide-ranging assessment of an area of historiography in the process of being reborn.
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