Cover image for The Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution
Pipes, Richard.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, 1991.

Physical Description:
xxiv, 944 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DK265 .P474 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Mr. Pipes writes trenchantly, and at times superbly....No single volume known to me even begins to cater so adequately to those who want to discover what really happened to Russia....Nor do I know any other book better designed to help Soviet citizens to struggle out of the darkness." -- Ronald Hingley, The New York Times Book Review Ground-breaking in its inclusiveness, enthralling in its narrative of a movement whose purpose, in the words of Leon Trotsky, was "to overthrow the world," The Russian Revolution draws conclusions that have already aroused great controversy in this country-and that are certain to be explosive when the book is published in the Soviet Union. Richard Pipes argues convincingly that the Russian Revolution was an intellectual, rather than a class, uprising; that it was steeped in terror from its very outset; and that it was not a revolution at all but a coup d'etat -- "the capture of governmental power by a small minority."

Author Notes

Richard Pipes was born Ryszard Edgar Pipes in Cieszyn, Poland on July 11, 1923. Soon after German troops entered Warsaw, he and his family fled to Italy on forged passports in 1939. They reached the United States a year later. He was attending Muskingum College in Ohio when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1942. He was sent to study Russian at Cornell University. He received a bachelor's degree from Cornell in 1946 and a doctorate in history from Harvard University in 1950. His dissertation became the basis of his first book The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917-1923.

His other books included Struve: Liberal on the Left, 1870-1905; Struve: Liberal on the Right, 1905-1944; U.S.-Soviet Relations in the Era of Détente; Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America's Future; Russia Under the Old Regime; The Russian Revolution; Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime; and Vixi: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger. He served for two years as the director of Eastern European and Soviet affairs for President Ronald Reagan's National Security Council. He spent his entire academic career at Harvard University. He died on May 17, 2018 at the age of 94.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

With erudition lightly worn, Harvard historian Pipes, in this massive, wonderfully vivid, gripping chronicle, stresses the role of liberals both in the Russian revolution of 1905, for which the Communists later claimed credit, and in the upheavals of 1917. He attributes the failure of the February 1917 revolution to Alexander Kerensky's rash actions, his doctrinaire vision of democracy and his dissolution of the police and the provincial bureaucracy, which plunged the nation into anarchy. He argues persuasively that the Bolsheviks' October 1917 putsch was not a true revolution, but a classic coup d'etat. His portrayal of the backward Russian peasantry, scarcely touched by westernization, and of the intelligentsia, ``self-appointed spokesman'' for over nine-tenths of the populace, lays the groundwork for his discerning analysis of how Lenin built a one-party dictatorship. No other book so brilliantly clarifies the inner dynamics of the Russian Revolution. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The author, a distinguished Harvard historian, seeks to present a comprehensive view of the Russian Revolution, tracing its roots in the half century before 1917, a period he has already examined in Russia Under the Old Regime ( LJ 3/15/75). His new book, which will also be published in the Soviet Union, should provoke lively debate in the age of glasnost, for it is an unsparing indictment of Bolshevism. Wide ranging in its coverage, based on a profound knowledge of the Russian past and of relevant Western and Soviet scholarship, the work analyzes the direction of Russian development to the Revolution (without whitewashing prerevolutionary figures such as Nicholas II), then goes on to examine the origins and entrenchment of Bolshevism, which Pipes sees as a savagely amoral force. If Soviet power in its first years brought any benefits at all, they are, in this evaluation, insignificant compared to the ghastly price paid for them by the Russian people. This is an important book.-- Robert H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Pipes, a recognized specialist on Russian history and Soviet affairs, has written a three part narrative on the Revolution. Part 1 sets in context the internal and foreign relations problems that faced the regime of Nicholas II before the February 1917 revolt. The second part analyzes the events of the revolutionary year 1917 itself: the establishment and the malfunctioning of the Provisional Government under Lvoy and Kerensky; the utilization and manipulation of the complex political, social, economic situation by the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of Lenin, and the final Bolshevik coup d'etat in October. In the last part of his work Pipes presents Bolshevik activities during the first year of their power. He discusses the Bolshevik establishment of "War Communism"; the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk peace with the Germans; the murder of the Romanovs; and the creation and use of agencies for Red Terror. Based on most recent sources and monographic literature, Pipes's overall synthesis is fair and well documented. Both scholarly and general readers can appreciate this authoritative treatment of an important topic. Highly recommended. -B. V. Maciuika, University of Connecticut