Cover image for A concise history of the Russian Revolution
A concise history of the Russian Revolution
Pipes, Richard.
Personal Author:
First Vintage Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Vintage Books, 1996.

Physical Description:
xvii, 431 pages : illustrations, maps ; 21 cm
General Note:
"Condensation of two volumes published originally ... as: The Russian Revolution ... and Russia under the Bolshevik regime ... by Richard Pipes"--Verso t.p.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Kenmore Library DK265 .P47 1995C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Richard Pipes's authoritative history of the "violent and disruptive acts" that created the first modern totalitarian regime portrays the crisis at the heart of the tsarist empire. Drawing on archival materials newly released in Russia, he chronicles the upheaval that began as a conservative revolt but was soon captured by messianic intellectuals intent not merely on reforming Russia but on remaking the world. He provides fresh accounts of the revolution's personalities and policies, crises, and cruelties, from the murder of the royal family through civil war, famine, and state terror. Brilliantly and persuasively, Pipes shows us why the resulting system owes less to the theories of Marx than it did to the character of Lenin and Russia's long authoritarian tradition. What ensues is a path-clearing work that is indispensable to any understanding of the events of the century.

Author Notes

Richard Pipes, Baird Research Professor of History at Harvard University, is the author of numerous books and essays. In 1981-82 he served as President Reagan's National Security Council adviser on Soviet and East European affairs. He has twice received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chesham, New Hampshire.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For the busy but interested reader, Pipes has condensed his classic two-volume analysis of Russia's tragic cataclysm. How that great country became saddled with and ruined by Communism is complex--despite the Bolshevik victors' claims for historical inevitability. Without World War I, they would have remained an obscure intelligentsia; Lenin doubted he would live to see the revolution scarcely weeks before the czar's abdication. Of course, Russia had muddled through the 19th century quasi-expectant of a revolution, ardently so by socialist terrorists, apprehensively so by liberals and conservatives; and the 1905 revolution should have revealed to everyone what a full-blown social overthrow would be like. But as Pipes cogently and rather wistfully describes, the reformist track under Stolypin was stymied by the monarchist reactionaries. After the bizarre interlude of Alexandra and Rasputin, enter Kerensky, the Reds Lenin and Trotsky, the Whites Kolchak and Denikin, and the dolorous drama unfolds. Despite its sadness, insight abounds in this history, among the most reliably researched and skillfully synthesized works ever written on the revolution. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Distilled from his previous books, Pipes's narrative examines both the revolution itself and its negative repercussions for Russian society. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Pipes (history, Harvard Univ.) has condensed his two-volume opus, The Russian Revolution (LJ 11/1/90) and Russia Under the Bolsheviks (LJ 3/15/94), into a single readable volume. Forcefully showing why the 70-year-old Communist experiment failed, he provides the nonacademic reader with accurate historical events in a highly readable format. Only a minor flaw in the fourth chapter, where he fails to explain who the Mensheviks were until 30 pages later in the next chapter, mars this excellent book. The approach parallels Dominic Lieven's contemporary volume Nicholas II (LJ 1/94) but is better organized and more complete. The last chapter does a fine job of summing up the revolution and adds a curious comparison between Bolshevik and Tsarist Russia. Ultimately, Pipes shows how the seeds of destruction of communism were planted at its inception in 1917. Recommended for public, academic, and school libraries.‘Harry Willems, Kansas Lib. System, Iola (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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