Book Review: The Russian Revolution

src=”” alt=”” width=”214″ height=”300″ />The Russian Revolution. Sheila Fitzpatrick (OUP, 1982).

This study may be confidently recommended as a competent account of the great Russian upheaval and a significant advance in American historicity, previously occasionally hysterical and even panic stricken when dealing with Russia. While there is not (nor can there be) anything essentially new in Fitzgerald’s account of the cataclysmic course of Russian events from 1917 onwards, it is meticulously researched and documented and very easy, not to say absorbing, reading.

The dramatic stories of the Seizure of Power (1917), the New Economic Policy (1921), the Death of Lenin (1924), the Great Collectivisation (1929), the Exile of Trotsky (19.30), the Extermination of the Old Bolshevik Guard (1936). and the Industrialisation (1936) are graphically re-told. Fitzpatrick makes the interesting suggestion that Stalin, then Khrushchev, and finally Brezhnev, all based their power on the one-and-a-half million industrial workers promoted to “top-jobs”, and the fact that the new “Soviet Man” was trained as a technical engineer rather than an old fashioned “political apparachnik”.

For our regular readers her conclusions will come as no surprise. One other cause for congratulation: Fitzpatrick, without overloading her text with Marxist quotations, has obviously read and (unusually for an American sociologist) understood him.

The book, at almost ten pounds, is something of a luxury — especially when the same conclusions can be found in SPGB publications costing a few pence.