Teaching Russian Revolutionary History

Teaching Russian Revolutionary History in the Centenary and Beyond

Teaching Resource Document
September 2016
Mr. Michael Carey and Dr. Alistair Dickins
Funding for this project was provided by the East Midlands Centre for History
Teaching and Learning (EMC)

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Guide Outline

  1. Textbooks, Primary Source Collections, and State-of-the-Field Articles
  2. Online Resources
  3. Centennial Events Marking 1917
  4. Themes in Teaching the Russian Revolution:
  5. a) The End of Tsarism/February Revolution
  6. b) Revolutionary Power, March-October 1917
  7. c) Political Parties
  8. d) Social Movements
  9. e) Culture
  10. f) Religion
  11. g) Violence
  12. h) The Provinces
  13. i) Empire and Nationality
  14. j) 1917 and the World
  15. k) 1917 in Wider Historical Context

Guide Descriptor and Outline

This Teaching Resource Document is designed to provide teaching practitioners in higher education – whether experts in the field or not – with easily-accessible information on key themes, resources, and issues in the teaching of the 1917 Russian Revolution. It is divided into four main sections.

Section 1 provides a brief overview of major general works, textbooks, primary source collections, and state-of-the field articles suitable for teaching the Russian Revolution in HE.

Section 2 provides a brief overview of suitable online resources, including blogs, websites, and digital archives.

Section 3 provides an overview of centennial events, due to take place in 2017, to mark the anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Section 4 provides an overview of key themes for teaching the Russian Revolution, including important historiographical debates and a brief annotated bibliographic survey of works suitable for teaching Revolutionary history.

  1. Textbooks, Primary Source Collections, and State-of-the-Field Articles

This list of key general works on the Russian Revolution is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to give a useful overview for teachers looking for works to set for undergraduate students as general or textbook reading on 1917.

Edward Acton, Rethinking the Russian Revolution (London, 1990), 229pp.

The key study of the historiography on the Russian Revolution, surveying both Western and Soviet scholarship.

Edward Acton, Vladimir lurevich Cherniaev, William G. Rosenberg (eds.), Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution (Bloomington, 1997), 782pp.

Superb volume of short entries, contributed by Western and Russian scholars, on a wide array of themes relating to the Russia’s Great War, revolution, and Civil War.

Eduard Nikolaevich Burdzhalov, Donald J. Raleigh, Russia’s Second Revolution: The February 1917 Uprising in Petrograd (Bloomington, 1987), 388pp.

A rare English translation of Soviet scholarship on 1917, adhering to many central tenets of Soviet historiography yet highly regarded by Western scholars for its thorough research, critical insights, and relative independence from common falsifications of the Soviet era.

Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924 (London, 1996), 923pp.

Enormous, well-written history of the revolution, viewing 1917 and its aftermath as the culmination of Russia’s troubled historical development.

Orlando Figes and Boris Kolonitskii, Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language and Symbols of 1917 (New Haven, 1999), 198pp.

Vital work on the cultural history of the revolution, offering groundbreaking insights into the subjective perspectives of Russians in 1917.

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (Oxford, 2008), 224pp.

Recently-updated volume, spanning 1917 through to the Stalin years, by a leading historian of the USSR.

Michael C. Hickey, Competing Voices from the Russian Revolution: Fighting Words (Santa Barbara, 2011), 599pp.

Excellent annotated volume of key documents from 1917, with expert commentaries from the author.

J.L.H. Keep, The Russian Revolution: A Study in Mass Mobilization (New York, 1976), 614pp.

An important work, one of the first to cover in depth the social aspects of 1917, although its conclusions are somewhat limited by its author’s adherence to the Cold War ‘totalitarian’ model.

Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 1899-1919 (New York, 1990), 944pp.

A lengthy, well-written, yet highly controversial text covering the pre-history of 1917 and the Civil War from a classically ‘Cold War’ perspective.

Alexander Rabinowitch, Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising (Bloomington, 1968), 299pp.

Setting the tone for scholarship on revolutionary politics for decades to come, Rabinowitch’s brilliant first book in a trilogy covering the Bolsheviks in 1917-1918, with focus on first months of revolution.

Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (New York, 1976), 393pp.

The second book of the three, looking in great detail at the Bolsheviks’ challenge to the Provisional Government towards October 1917.

Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd (Bloomington, 2007), 494pp.

The final book of the three, focusing on the first months in the Russian capital after the October Revolution.

Christopher Read, From Tsar to Soviets: The Russian People and their Revolution, 1917-1921 (New York, 1996), 330pp.

A key survey of society and politics during the revolution and Civil War.

Jonathan D. Smele, The Russian Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1921: An Annotated Bibliography (London, 2003), 625pp.

Extremely detailed bibliographic survey of scholarship on the revolution and Civil War.

A. Smith, ‘The Historiography of the Russian Revolution 100 Years On’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian Flistory 16, 4 (2015), 733-749.

A clear and concise overview of new directions in the historiography of the revolution.

A. Smith, The Russian Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 1998), 180pp.

Concise overview of the revolution by one of its outstanding historians, with brief focus on 1917 and coverage of the early years of the USSR.

Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917 (Cambridge, 2000), 337pp.

Probably the outstanding English-language history of 1917 to date. Updated edition due to be published by Cambridge University Press in spring 2017.

Rex A. Wade, The Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War (Westward, 2001), 220pp.

Covering the Bolshevik assumption of power and Civil War, with primary documents in appendix.

Rex A. Wade (ed.), Revolutionary Russia: New Approaches (New York, 2004), 275pp.

Landmark collection of articles offering post-Cold War approaches to key aspects of the revolution.

Rex A. Wade, ‘The Russian Revolution at One Hundred: Issues and Trends in the English Language Historiography of the Russian Revolution of 1917’, The Journal of Modem Russian History and Historiography (2016, forthcoming), c. 40pp.

Rather lengthier and more detailed than Smith’s article on the same topic, Wade’s article provides extensive information on scholarship into the revolution over the past hundred years.

  1. Online Resources

This list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather highlight key available online resources which can be used to supplement set texts and other teaching materials covering the Russian Revolution.

Marxists Internet Archive (https://www.marxists.org/)

An enormous digital archive of Marxist and other leftist textual sources. Includes wide range of sources relating to, and composed by participants in, the Russian Revolution. Note also, however: this is an explicitly ideological project and commentaries provided by archivists reflect their Leninist outlook.

Plakaty.ru (http://www.plakaty.ru/)

Excellent collection of Russian and Soviet posters, beginning before 1917 and spanning the whole of the USSR’s existence.

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History: An On-Line Archive of Primary Sources (http://soviethistory.msu.edu/)

An initiative by Michigan State University taking an in-depth look at seventeen years in Soviet history – including 1917, 1921, and 1924. The website presents a large amount of key primary sources, with translations and contextualising essays.

The Russian Revolution in the Internet Modern History Sourcebook (http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook39.asp#The%20Russian%20Revolution)

Part of Fordham University’s project collecting public domain primary sources, the Russian Revolution section hosts the text of a number of key sources.

The Russian Revolution and Britain, 1917-1928

https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/explorefurther/digital/russia/

A strong digital collection of primary sources held by the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick which touches chiefly on the response of the British Labour movement to the Russian Revolution.

  1. Centennial Events Marking 1917 Revolution

This list provides information about public-facing events marking the centenary of the 1917 Revolution which can be used to supplement teaching.

5-7 January 2017. XUII Conference of the Study Group on the Russian Revolution. Northumbria University, Newcastle.

http://www.basees.org/studv-group-of-the-russian-revolution/

Annual conference of BASEES-affiliated Study Group on the Russian Revolution, discussing current research in the field. The conference is renowned for providing opportunities for postgraduate students to present original research findings and draws experts from across the UK, Western Europe, North America, and Russia.

11 February – 17 April 2017. Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 at the Royal Academy of Arts.

https://www.rovalacademv.org.uk/exhibition/revolution-russian-art

Exhibition of Russian art in the fifteen years following the revolution, considering the way 1917 unleashed a wave of artistic freedom and experimentation which would last until the Stalinist 1930s.

April-September 2017. Russian Revolution Centenary Exhibition at the British Library

Extensive and immersive exhibition of materials relating to the Russian Revolution, featuring items from the British Library’s own collection.

15-6 September 2017. Conference: ‘Re-thinking the Russian Revolution of 1917 as a global event in local contexts’. University of Essex.

http://www.essex.ac.uk/historv/news and seminars/conferences.aspx

Conference focusing on global responses and ramifications of the Russian Revolution.

  1. Themes in Teaching the Russian Revolution

This section gives an overview of key themes and accompanying debates currently informing research into the Russian revolution, in order to open these to teaching on the subject. It does not give basic facts pertaining to the revolution, which can be gained from the general works and textbooks listed above. Rather, it offers a means for HE practitioners to access cutting-edge scholarly debates suitable for preparing teaching materials.

Entries address key thematic elements of research into the revolution, including information on historiography and bibliographic references to works suitable for exploring these issues in lectures and the classroom. Wherever possible, references are given to works of suitable length and readability for students’ weekly readings and practitioners’ seminar/lecture preparation.

The section is divided into the following thematic sub-sections:

  1. a) The End of Tsarism/February Revolution
  2. b) Revolutionary Power, March-October 1917
  3. c) Political Parties
  4. d) Social Movements
  5. e) Culture
  6. f) Religion
  7. g) Violence
  8. h) The Provinces
  9. i) Empire and Nationality
  10. j) 1917 and the World
  11. k) 1917 in Wider Historical Context
  12. a) The End of Tsarism/February Revolution

Perhaps the most obvious and contentious question regarding the old regime in Russia is, was Tsarism doomed to fail? Scholarship has been typically split on this question. ‘Optimists’ propose that, given the chance, Tsarism could have transformed itself into a more effective, modern, and durable governmental system, while ‘pessimists’ argue that Tsarism had little potential to establish itself as a viable system.

Christopher Read, ‘In Search of Liberal Tsarism: The Historiography of Autocratic Decline’, The Historical Journal 45,1 (2002), 195-210.

Offering a remarkably comprehensive survey of literature up to date of publication, this short and accessible article sides generally with ‘pessimists’ in the debate, arguing that ‘optimist positions arose largely out of the immediate post-Cold War shift in scholarly perspectives on the Russian Revolution. An excellent text for undergraduate readings on the revolution.

Scholarship on the pre-history of 1917 has been increasingly concerned with the relationship of war to revolution. Two broad questions have arisen, as historians attempt to place 1917 into its broader wartime context. The first, long considered crucial, is, did war strengthen or weaken the Tsarist regime?

Josh Sanborn, The Mobilization of 1914 and the Question of the Russian Nation: A Re-Examination’, Slavic Review 59, 2 (2000), 267-89.

Sanborn’s article provides a critical re-examination of Russian responses to war. While many scholars have argued that the outbreak of war was met by patriotic fervour which temporarily strengthened Tsarism, Sanborn demonstrates that responses were varied and included many extremely negative reactions, including empire-wide rioting and public mourning.

The second question, which has become increasingly important, is, what role did war play in shaping the politics of revolution?

Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia’s Continuum of Crisis (Cambridge, 2002), chapter 1.

Holquist’s landmark book has helped transform the way scholars think about war and its revolutionary impact. Rather than simply arguing that war hastened or stalled revolution in 1917, he contends that it changed the way the state operated, meaning the practices and institutions which emerged in 1917 and the Civil War had been developing since 1914.

Historians on the February Revolution of 1917 have long asked, how far was the overthrow of Tsarism ‘spontaneous’? Classic historiographical interpretations sought to maintain the idea of the overthrow of Tsarism as unplanned, un-/dis-organised, and largely unexpected. More recent studies have challenged the ‘spontaneity’ paradigm, demonstrating the extent of planning and organisation involved.

Michael Melancon, ‘Rethinking Russia’s February Revolution: Anonymous Spontaneity or Socialist Agency?’ The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies 1408 (2000), 1-45.

Melancon argues forcefully against the ‘spontaneity’ paradigm, demonstrating that socialists in Russia’s capital, Petrograd, were actively planning for a ‘revolution’ from late-November 1916 onwards. His thorough work includes a clearly argued explanation of why the ‘spontaneity’ paradigm became so popular in both Soviet and Western historiography after 1917.

Semion Lyandres, The Fall of Tsarism: Untold Stories from the February 1917 Revolution (Oxford, 2013), chapter 13, 269-90.

Lyandres uses a collection of newly-discovered memoirs of leading participants in the February Revolution – the majority of them prominent liberals – to argue that liberal politicians actively sought to achieve revolution. His interpretation contrasts with the hitherto dominant belief that liberals remained passive and were, at best, ‘reluctant revolutionaries’.

  1. b) Revolutionary Power, March-October 1917

One of the overriding historiographical questions of the 1917 revolution is, why did the Provisional Government fail? During the Cold War, Western historians tended to emphasise the destabilising effect of’illegal’ activities of the soviets and Bolsheviks, who undermined the Provisional Government by attacking its vision for a liberal Russian future. Soviet historians, meanwhile, argued that the ‘bourgeois’ nature of the Provisional Government prevented it from fulfilling the demands of the masses. More recently, historians have started to analyse the weakness of the Provisional Government through the lens of its projected reforms, highlighting more complex social and political reasons for their failure.

Daniel T. Orlovsky, ‘Corporatism or Democracy? The Russian Provisional Government of 1917’, Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 24 (1997), 15-26.

In this ground-breaking article, Orlovsky contends that the vision of the Provisional Government to establish a democratic system based on liberal notions of civic equality and individual rights fundamentally contradicted dominant conceptions of political organisation, which tended towards collective political engagement through ‘corporate’ and collectivist structures. His arguments can be contrasted with the idea of Western Cold War historians, that Bolshevik and radical leftist politicking was to blame for popular rejection of liberal politics.

Michael C. Hickey, ‘Local Government and State Authority in the Provinces: Smolensk, February-June 1917’, Slavic Review 55, 4 (1996), 863-81.

Hickey’s article documents the complex and contentious process of reforming state structures from the perspective of local political activists. He demonstrates the extent to which local actors sought to autonomously transform local government, often against the express demands of state authorities in Petrograd. The article draws on a remarkable document, reproduced in full in Hickey’s edited collection, Competing Voices from the Russian Revolution (pp. 279-294), in which locals in Smolensk debated Provisional Government proposals for regional and local governance.

Alongside the decline of the Provisional Government, 1917 witnessed the growing authority of soviets. How did the soviets succeed in establishing themselves as powerful organs of government? Conforming to the ‘dual power’ thesis (see below), historians have often imagined that soviets forced out the Provisional Government and other organisations capable of wielding power, thus monopolising control over the state apparatus. However, recent research indicates that a more complex system of power relations emerged, in which soviets and other organisations actively collaborated with one another to fulfil state functions.

Donald J. Raleigh, ‘Political Power in the Russian Revolution: A Case Study of Saratov’, in Edith Rogovin Frankel and Jonathan Frankel (eds.), Revolution in Russia: Reassessments of 1917 (Cambridge, 1992), 34-53.

Drawing on his ground-breaking research into Saratov in 1917, Raleigh contends that the city’s soviet became the only viable organ of political control at a local level, effectively replacing all others in order to enact its own ‘single power’.

Alistair Dickins, ‘Rethinking the Power of Soviets: Krasnoiarsk, March-October 1917’, The Journal of Modern Russian History and Historiography 9 (2016, forthcoming), 224-52.

Drawing on research into the central-Siberian city of Krasnoiarsk, and contesting the model pursued by Raleigh’s article, the author argues that the Krasnoiarsk Soviet was not capable of commanding power at a local level independently. Instead, it sought to engage other local governmental and administrative organisations throughout 1917, in order to tackle issues of state.

In light of new research, particularly into the Russian provinces, historians have also asked, how did different organs of Revolutionary power relate to one another? For a long time, historiography has been dominated by the ‘dual power’ paradigm, in which state power was divided between the Provisional Government and soviets. However, scholars have more recently questioned the extent to which power can be seen as falling neatly between two distinct power blocs.

Sarah Badcock, ‘Structures and Practices of Power: 1917 in Nizhegorod and Kazan’ Provinces’, in Sarah Badcock, Liudmila G. Novikova, and Aaron B. Retish (eds.), Russia’s Home Front in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: Bookl. Russia’s Revolution in Regional Perspective (Bloomington, 2015), 355- 82.

Building on her 2007 monograph on revolution in the Russian provinces, Badcock argues that local structures of government were not divided between two distinct blocs, but rather were fragmented according to local conditions. This reflects the fact that authority structures developed autonomously at a local level and did not conform to patterns established in Petrograd.

  1. c) Political Parties

What role did political parties play in the Russian Revolution? 1917 has often been written from the perspective of political parties. Traditional accounts have typically emphasised the role of more-or- less cohesive groups of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, SRs, and Kadets in determining the political course of Revolutionary politics. However, with the opening of archives and growth of social historiography from the late-1970s onwards, the ability of parties to shape political outcomes has increasingly been challenged, with historians demonstrating the limitations of party dominance.

Diane Koenker, ‘The Evolution of Party Consciousness in 1917: The Case of Moscow Workers’, Soviet Studies 30,1 (1978), 38-62.

Koenker’s article sparked a key shift in debates regarding party politics in 1917. Instead of emphasising the centrality of parties, as most other scholars had done, she revealed that social actors — in her case, Moscow’s workers – often failed to engage in party politics. At the beginning of revolution, few had experienced party work and many failed to understand the roles and political differences of parties.

Sarah Badcock, Politics and the People in Revolutionary Russia: A Provincial History (Cambridge, 2007), chapter 3, 56-86.

Drawing on research into the Socialist-Revolutionary Party in Nizhnii-Novgorod and Kazan’, Badcock likewise emphasises the weak influence of parties on popular politics. She develops this theme by demonstrating that local party organisations often lacked the degree of political cohesion and discipline which historians typically attributed to them.

Concurrently with debates on party politics, historians have also asked, how far did the radicalisation of revolutionary politics, culminating in the October Revolution, equate to growing Bolshevik control? While the October Revolution has formerly been portrayed as an all-Bolshevik affair, new research emphasises the contribution that forces independent of the Bolsheviks made to overthrowing the Provisional Government.

Rex A. Wade, ‘”All Power to the Soviets”: The Bolsheviks Take Power’, in Rex A. Wade (ed.), Revolutionary Russia: New Approaches to the Russian Revolution of 1917 (New York, 2004), 211-42.

Wade challenges the idea that the October Revolution represented a victory for the Bolsheviks alone, instead emphasising the importance of a growing bloc of left-wing political groupings, which worked together for the goal of transferring power to the soviets.

Michael Melancon, ‘The Left Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik Uprising’, in Vladimir N. Brovkin (ed.), The Bolsheviks in Russian Society: The Revolution and the Civil Wars (New Haven, 1997), 59-80.

Melancon, the foremost English-language expert on the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, reveals the importance of left-SR support for the October Revolution, emphasising the left-SRs’ political autonomy. His work has helped revise the long-standing notion that left-SRs were ineffectual ‘Don Quixotes of the Revolution’ or acolytes of the Bolsheviks, providing further support to Wade’s idea of a ‘left-bloc’ emerging in 1917.

  1. d) Social Movements

Scholarship on social movements in 1917 has focused predominantly on the ‘lower classes’ – workers, soldiers, and peasants – felt to have played key roles in revolutionary politics. Beginning with a wave of social historiography in the late-1970s and 1980s, historians sought to revise ‘top-down’ understandings of revolutionary politics, asking how far did lower-class actors display autonomous political agency?

Kevin Murphy, Revolution and Counterrevolution in a Moscow Metal Factory (New York, 2005), chapter 2 (esp. 43-62).

An important yet often overlooked book, Murphy examines the 1917 revolution and Civil War in a single concise chapter. His findings largely concur with those of earlier social histories of workers in revolution, including S. A. Smith, Red Petrograd (1982), which contend that workers were often disconnected from party politics but became increasingly conscious of antagonistic class relations over the course of 1917 as a result of growing day-to-day struggles. Murphy’s chapter is highly readable and engaging, although his overall Trotskyist approach should be born in mind if it is to be used for teaching.

Marc Ferro, ‘The Russian Soldier in 1917: Undisciplined, Patriotic, and Revolutionary’, Slavic Review 30, 2 (1971), 483-512.

Although not new, Ferro’s article remains a highly relevant and extremely well-researched piece of work, the findings of which continue to inform scholarship. He contends that soldiers were initially reluctant to criticise the war but became increasingly anti-war over the course of 1917. Shedding valuable light on issues such as the divisions between rank-and-file soldiers and their officers, and on soldiers’ attitudes towards the Petrograd Soviet, Ferro demonstrates that rank the politics of rank-and-file soldiers was informed closely by their own changing day-to-day circumstances.

Aaron B. Retish, ‘Creating Peasant Citizens: Rituals of Power, Rituals of Citizenship in Viatka Province, 1917’, Revolutionary Russia 16, 1 (2003), 47-67.

Engaging themes developed in his 2008 monograph, Retish’s article provides a useful way into peasant politics in 1917. His main focus is demonstrations and other rituals through which peasants in Viatka province participated in revolutionary politics. The article demonstrates that peasants held their own conceptions of citizenship, often seeing themselves as part of a wider Russian community but not necessarily adopting the standards of citizenship put forward by formal political authorities. It can be used as a contrast to scholarship which suggests peasants were closed to the outside world and wider notions of revolutionary politics.

Alongside the traditional focus on workers, soldiers, and peasants, scholarship has increasingly turned its attention to marginal social groupings, asking, how did social actors who were not represented in formal political institutions express political agency?

Sarah Badcock, ‘Women, Protest, and Revolution: Soldiers’ Wives in Russia During 1917′, International Review of Social History 49 (2004), 47-70.

Badcock’s article highlights how soldiers’ wives, who were rarely organised into formal political structures, sought to influence political procedures. Her work provides a useful way into thinking about social contingency in war and revolution: soldiers’ wives were, of course, a product of war in Russia. It also opens up the wider question of women’s political participation in 1917, an area which has been understudied in the historiography overall.

Cultural history has also begun to influence the way scholars think about social movements in 1917. Cultural historians have helped to problematise social categories often taken for granted, asking how did social actors construct their own identities?

Orlando Figes and Boris Kolonitskii, Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language and Symbols of 1917 (New Haven and London, 1999), chapter 4,104-26.

Chapter 4 of Figes and Kolonitskii’s landmark book investigates the language Russian workers used to identify themselves over the course of 1917. It demonstrates not only that workers imagined themselves as separate from other social groups, but also that they were also divided into discreet social groups, identifying themselves by such categories as gender and rural place of origin.

  1. e) Culture

Historians of the Russian Revolution and early Soviet regime have been interested in how it intersected with the rise of mass culture, understanding it as a site of contestation for symbolic power used both by the Tsarist state and the new revolutionary regimes birthed in 1917. Within this broad topic the use of mass festivals throughout the revolutionary period has been particularly noted.

James von Geldern, Bolshevik Festivals, 1917-1920 (Berkeley, 1993).

Geldern argues that the great festivals and spectacles of the Soviet regime’s early years enabled the Bolsheviks to generate symbolic power around revolutionary symbols, merging the Soviet state into the legitimating history of world revolution and fixing new authoritative centres of power.

Malte Rolf, Soviet Mass Festivals, 1917-1991, trans. Cynthia Klohr (Pittsburgh, 2013).

Rolf emphasises how the great mass festivals helped to create ‘Sovietised’ or ‘colonised’ modes of organising space and time, including by the re-signification of important urban centres and the adoption of a new series of revolutionary holidays which sought to replace and, sometimes, to subsume earlier religious mass celebrations. Particularly useful for the comparatives made with fascist mass celebrations and across different Soviet regions.

Svetlana Malysheva, ‘Mass Urban Festivals in the Era of War and Revolution, 1914-22’, in Murray Frame et al. (eds.), Russian Culture in War and Revolution, 1914-22. Book2: Popular Culture, Identities, Mentalities, and Memory (Bloomington, 2014), 99-120.

In-keeping with the theme of the book series, Malysheva argues for a continuity between Russia’s mass urban festivals of the pre-war to the post-revolutionary era. Their growth was part of a general ‘historicization’ of Russian ‘mass consciousness’, the appeal to the historical past to inform and bolster contemporary identities, which the Bolsheviks inherited and sought to re-code with their own historical narrative.

The efforts to foster a new socialist culture after the Bolshevik revolution, both by the state and by individual thinkers and groups, has been the subject of much fruitful scholarship. Historians have looked at the flowering of a variety of utopian ideas, but also the difficulties involved in attempting to revolutionise culture and the sometimes euphoric, but often strained and mutilating, impact of the revolution on the literary and cultural elite.

Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution (Oxford, 1989).

Stites looks at the blossoming of the ideas of Russian socialists and Utopians who hoped to use the revolution to recreate culture anew, though, as he shows, drawing on long and varied traditions of revolutionary dreaming and anticipation.

Victor Erlich, Modernism and Revolution: Russian Literature in Transition (Cambridge, MA, 1994).

A good introduction to Russian literary culture which forms its chapters around the responses of individual literary movements and prominent writers to the revolution. Erlich shows how the choices made by Russia’s leading literary modernists in response to 1917 influenced their personal development and the development of their work.

Christopher Read, ‘Revolution, Culture, and Cultural Policy from Late Tsarism to the Early Soviet Years’, in Murray Frame et al (eds.), Russian Culture in War and Revolution, 1914-22. Book 1: Popular Culture, the Arts, and Institutions (Bloomington, 2014), 1-22.

In this introduction, Read looks at the continuities and discontinuities in the Russian state’s cultural policy across the revolutionary divides, arguing that ‘culture’ proved to be a strong conservative force, and that a key area of Bolshevism’s political failure lay ultimately in its inability to succeed ‘on the cultural front’.

  1. f) Religion

With the Orthodox church having long functioned as a powerful legitimator of Tsarism, historians have asked, to what extent was the church a counter-revolutionary force? Scholarship focuses on new opportunities for the church opened up by the revolution, and the attitudes of revolutionaries themselves towards Orthodoxy.

John D. Basil, ‘Revolutionary Leadership and the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917’, Church History 48, 2 (1978), 189-203.

Basil focuses on the relations between the Soviet leaders and the Orthodox church before October in 1917, arguing that, rather than the revolution being essentially anti-clerical, the fall of the Tsarist state gave Orthodoxy an opportunity for political freedom, internal reform and a chance to recast the relationship between church and state. However, various factors (chiefly anti-clericalism among the moderate socialists) prevented the growth of constructive relations between revolutionaries and church.

Arto Luukkanen, The Party of Unbelief: The Religious Policy of the Bolshevik Party 1917-1929 (Helsinki, 1994).

Luukkanen focuses on the internal debates and divisions within the Bolshevik party concerning how to best approach the problem of religion, showing how their policy changed in response to circumstances and concluding that pragmatic concerns, more than ideological, defined their approach.

William B. Husband, ‘Soviet Atheism and Russian Orthodox Strategies of Resistance, 1917-1932’, Journal of Modern History 70,1 (1998), 74-107.

Husband writes of Russian society as being suffused with religious motifs at all levels, which the Bolsheviks saw as a barrier to the attainment of a rational, scientific culture necessary for communism. He therefore describes the relations between the early Bolshevik state and the Orthodox church as ‘encounters between irreconcilable forces’. However, the article emphasises how the ambiguities and nuances of the Bolshevik anti-religious policy provided believers with openings for resistance.

Henk Kern, ‘Revolutionary Mystique: Religious Undertones in the Russian Revolution of 1917’, in Joost Augusteijn et al. (eds.), Political Religion Beyond Totalitarianism: The Sacralization of Politics in the Age of Democracy (Basingstoke, 2013), 215-30.

Kern argues that the Russian Revolution drew on religious impulses, imagery and modes of thinking and feeling, providing a good introduction to the debate around whether Bolshevism and revolutionary ideology more broadly can be understood as a ‘political religion’ in their own right.

In relation to the reforming movements arising from within the Orthodox church itself, historians have asked, to what extent did the Orthodox church undergo its own ‘revolution’? Key issues include how far this was an organic trend arising from the need for the church itself to adapt to changing conditions, and how far it was supported by the atheistic revolutionaries to undermine religious belief.

Edward E. Roslof, Red Priests: Renovationism, Russian Orthodoxy, and Revolution, 1905-1946 (Bloomington, 2002).

Roslof follows attempts by some within the church to fuse radical socialism and Christianity, and to reform the Orthodox religion so as to make it fit the needs of modern Russia. After the October Revolution these ‘renovationists’ sought a rapprochement with the Soviet regime against conservative Orthodoxy, but were stung as the Bolsheviks played the two factions off against each other.

Jennifer Jean Wynot, Keeping the Faith: Russian Orthodox Monasticism in the Soviet Union, 1917- 1939 (Texas, 2004), esp. chapters 1 and 2, 3-79.

The first two chapters of this work show the experience of Orthodox monasticism, and the church more broadly, from the eve of the revolution up to the establishment of the Soviet Union. Wynot traces how monastic communities sought to negotiate the modern era, prompting changes driven both by factors internal to the church and to monasticism, and to external factors relating to Orthodoxy’s relations with civil society and the state.

  1. g) Violence

Violence underpinned many revolutionary processes in 1917 and, especially, the subsequent Civil War, helping define Russia’s early-twentieth century experience. During the Cold War, Western historians often linked revolutionary violence with the ideologies of its protagonists, especially the Bolsheviks. More recently, scholarship on violence has come to focus on questions of the breakdown and reconstruction of power. This has been approached from the perspective of state authorities and political elites, on the one hand, and of social actors, on the other. For many historians, a key question is, how and why was violence employed by revolutionary authorities?

Peter Holquist, ‘Violent Russia, Deadly Marxism? Russia in the Epoch of Violence, 1905-1921′, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 4, 3 (2003), 627-52.

In an astonishingly broad-ranging and erudite overview, Holquist challenges previous historiographical approaches to revolutionary violence in Russia. He argues that violence in 1917 and the subsequent Civil War reflected both Russia’s historical development and wider European socio-political convulsions, which emerged especially in the period 1914-1924. On the one hand, the imperial character of the Russian state combined civilian and military functions which were usually kept separate in other European countries. On the other hand, the Great War transformed and expanded the state’s role and willingness to use massive coercion to reshape society. 1917 and, especially, the Civil War provided an opportunity for political authorities to employ violence to achieve Russia’s revolutionary transformation.

Aaron B. Retish, The Izhevsk Revolt of 1918: The Fateful Clash of Revolutionary Coalitions, Paramilitarism, and Bolshevik Power’, in Sarah Badcock, Liudmila G. Novikova, and Aaron B. Retish (eds.), Russia’s Home Front in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: Bookl. Russia’s Revolution in Regional Perspective (Bloomington, 2015), 299-322.

Based on a local study, Retish highlights the importance of revolutionary authorities harnessing violent forces when seeking to strengthen their positions of power. He reveals how local Bolsheviks came to working arrangements with autonomous paramilitaries, legitimising the latter’s actions in order to utilise their coercive and violent capacities.

Other historians have built on earlier social history of the Russian Revolution, highlighting the growing wave of violent practices in Russian society and everyday life in 1917 and asking, what did violence mean for ‘ordinary people’?

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, ‘Crime, Police, and Mob Justice in Petrograd during the Russian Revolutions of 1917’, in Rex A. Wade (ed.), Revolutionary Russia: New Approaches to the Russian Revolution of 1917 (New York, 2004), 46-71.

Asking the wider question of how revolution was experienced at a day-to-day level, Hasegawa explores the phenomenon of mob violence in the Russian capital. His article highlights how the collapse of the pre-revolutionary police and Tsarist regime was followed by a wave of street violence, arguing this to be an expression of a wider security crisis and collapsing faith in governmental authority. Hasegawa’s research on this theme will appear in monograph form in 2017.

Mark D. Steinberg, Voices of Revolution, 1917 (New Haven, 2001), part 1, esp. 63-72.

Combining a subaltern-studies perspective with cultural analysis of the language of revolution, Steinberg’s volume provides a valuable and engaging contribution to understandings of popular violence in 1917. The author contends that the overthrow of Tsarism unleashed a ‘struggle for everyday power’ which was often played out with great violence, as lower-class actors challenged existing social and political structures. Simultaneously, mass violence stimulated fears amongst intellectuals and revolutionary leaders of popular unrest.

One key question raised by historians when addressing the sheer violence of the era has been, what factors are the most responsible for the level of violence of the period? Most historians have sought to avoid the simplistic question, ‘who is to blame?’ and have instead looked for the larger factors justifying and encouraging the violence of the era.

Sirkka Arosalo, ‘Social Conditions for Political Violence: Red and White Terror in the Finnish Civil War of 1918’, Journal of Peace Research 35, 2 (1998), 147-66.

In this article, Arosalo looks closely at the statistics for the use of violence in the Finnish Civil War, finding that the key determinant of unregulated violence at different times and in different areas was economic insecurity and shortages of basic goods, though interacting with political determinants.

Arno J. Mayer, The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions (New Jersey, 2000).

Mayer looks at both the French revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution in order to identify the dynamics of violence in revolutions, arguing for the primacy of circumstances in fueling the chaos. He considers relational factors that intensify revolutionary violence, including the role of anti-revolutionary resistance in heightening internal and external conflicts.

James Ryan, ‘The Sacralization of Violence: Bolshevik Justifications for Violence and Terror during the Civil War’, Slavic Review 74, 4 (2015), 808-31.

Ryan emphasises the ideological determinants of Bolshevik violence, arguing that their messianic vision of a communist future free from the use of force in the relations between people enabled them to ‘sanctify’ their own use of revolutionary violence, conceived as necessary to achieve that future.

Additionally, historians have tended to delineate different kinds of violence, with different explanations and different consequences. A key distinction has often been made between ‘spontaneous’ forms of violence, ‘planned’ Terror, and the particularity of civil war violence.

Israel Getzler, ‘Lenin’s Conception of Revolution as Civil War’, The Slavonic and East European Review 74, 3 (1996), 464-72.

Getzler shows that Lenin conceived of the use of state violence in the terms of a civil war, which he expected and welcomed as an unavoidable stage of the revolution. This conception of the role of revolutionary violence, Getzler argues, molded how the Bolsheviks understood the state and therefore how their actions in the revolutionary years shaped the state for posterity.

Vladimir P. Buldakov, ‘Freedom, Shortages, Violence: The Origins of the “Revolutionary Anti-Jewish Pogrom” in Russia, 1917-1918’, in Jonathan Dekel-Chen et al. (eds.), Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History (Indiana, 2010), 74-91.

Buldakov views the anti-Semitic violence of 1917 and 1918 as a spontaneous phenomenon, writing that it ‘derived more from an upsurge of prejudice than from the actions of certain political groups’, and writes of the failure of ‘internationalist’ propaganda to restrain the violent irrationality of grassroots anti- Semitism.

  1. h) The Provinces

While historical accounts of 1917 previously focused on the Russian capital, Petrograd, a new body of work has explored revolution in the provinces, asking the question, how did the experience of revolution in the provinces compare to that of Russia’s capitals? Historians working in this field have emphasised the difference between experiences of revolution according to location, comprehensively countering the previously commonplace belief that ‘when the bell tolls for Petrograd, it tolls all over Russia’. Their work has also contributed to a number of different historiographical debates, including issues of social identity and political power. Several important historiographical essays, articles, and chapters, provide an entry-point into these debates.

Sarah Badcock, ‘The Russian Revolution: Broadening Understandings of 1917’, History Compass 6, 1 (2008), 243-62.

Badcock’s article focuses particularly on the question of social agency, arguing that research into the Russian provinces offers insight into the actions and perspectives of people previously ignored in historical work on the revolution. Summarising work to date in this area, she focuses particularly on the limited role of political parties and the ‘diffused’ nature of power at a local level, which defies the term ‘dual power’ (on this issue, see also above).

Sarah Badcock, Liudmila G. Novikova, and Aaron B. Retish, ‘Introduction: A Kaleidoscope of Revolutions’, in Sarah Badcock, Liudmila G. Novikova, and Aaron B. Retish (eds.), Russia’s Home Front in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: Bookl. Russia’s Revolution in Regional Perspective (Bloomington, 2015), 1-15.

Introducing their recently-published volume on the revolution and Civil War in the provinces, Badcock, Novikova, and Retish reiterate that Russia’s revolutionary experience was multifaceted and not determined by the ‘centre’. This introductory chapter includes a useful commentary on studies of Russia’s provinces in revolution to date.

Liudmila Novikova, ‘The Russian Revolution from a Provincial Perspective’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 16, 4 (2015), 769-85.

Examining key works in both English and Russian, Novikova’s article is the most thorough of surveys to date in this area. On the year 1917, she looks especially at local and regional power structures, reiterating the argument that ‘dual power’ fails to acknowledge multifaceted variations across Russia during the revolution.

  1. i) Empire and Nationality

The divisions of the Russian Revolution have typically been framed in terms of class. Yet scholars have more recently turned focus also to the issue of nationality, which proved a powerful force in the Revolution’s imperial context. How and why did nationality become so significant on the geographic peripheries of the Russian Empire? Moving away from essentialist understandings of nationalism, much research has sought to explain how national identities were constructed in the context of war and revolution.

Joshua A. Sanborn, Drafting the Russian Nation: Military Conscription, Total War, and Mass Politics, 1905-1925 (DeKalb, 2003), chapter 2, 63-95.

Sanborn’s monograph explores military conscription as a powerful force for forging national identities. Especially during the Great War, conscription paradoxically both engaged social actors across the Russian Empire in a common community and exacerbated ethnic divisions between them. During the course of the war, conscripted non-Russians used military service to claim a right to participate more actively in Russian political life. Following the collapse of Tsarism in 1917, nationalists took advantage of the power vacuum to press demands for national autonomy, including through the formation of specific national units in the Russian army.

Peter Gatrell, A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War I (Bloomington, 1999), chapters 7 and 8, 141-96.

Gatrell argues that the exodus of often non-Russian refugees from the Empire’s Western borderlands strengthened national identities. Relief organisations explicitly categorised refugees according to national grouping, while self-proclaimed national elites sought to forge cohesive national communities amongst their displaced compatriots across Russia. 1917 opened new opportunities and posed new challenges for this movement, simultaneously enabling greater organisation along national lines while exposing political controversies within particular national groupings.

In 1917, national and ethnic identities helped define the course and character of revolutionary politics, particularly in many peripheral areas of the Russian Empire. Building on this observation, historians have asked, how did revolution reflect and shape national identities and impact on national relations?

Andreas Kappeler, The Russian Empire: A Multiethnic History trans. Alfred Clayton (Harlow, 2001), esp. chapter 9, 328-79.

Kappeler shows how the efforts at national assertion and liberation by minority nationalities in the Russian empire interacted with the liberal and socialist trends of revolution, arguing that the war and the February Revolution in particular intensified the development of nationalist tendencies, destabilising the unity of the Russian state which the Provisional Government sought to maintain.

Ronald Grigor Suny, The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Stanford, 1993), esp. chapter 2, 20-83.

Suny argues that the extent of nationalist ideology before 1917 has been exaggerated, and that minority nationalisms became far more developed under Soviet rule. How shows, however, how vastly different circumstances among the ethnicities populating the Russian Empire structured their responses to the revolution.

Adeeb Khalid, Tashkent, 1917: Muslim Politics in Revolutionary Turkestan’, Slavic Review 55, 2 (1996), 270-96.

Focusing on Tashkent, Khalid argues that revolutionary politics reflected divisions both between the city’s indigenous Muslim and settler Russian population, and amongst Muslims. While ‘dual power’ can explain the division between liberal and socialist Russians, it did not encompass the indigenous population, which Russians ‘sought to exclude from participation in the revolutionary process.’ At the same time, the revolution saw Muslim conservative and reformist cultural elites battle for influence amongst the indigenous population. A similar analysis is given in Jeff Sahadeo, Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent (Bloomington, 2007), chapter 7, 187-207.

Daniel E. Schafer, ‘Bashkir Loyalists and the Question of Autonomy: Gabdulkhai Kurbangaliev in the Russian Revolution and Civil War’, in Sarah Badcock, Liudmila G. Novikova, and Aaron B. Retish (eds.), Russia’s Home Front in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: Book 1. Russia’s Revolution in Regional Perspective (Bloomington, 2015), 215-46.

Like Khalid, Schafer explores the political relationship both between members of the Bashkir ethnic group and (predominantly Russian) Bolsheviks, as well as between different factions of the Bashkirs. His article, which focuses particularly on the Civil War years, highlights the emergence of nominally pro- and anti- Bolshevik factions amongst Bashkir political elites.

Historians have frequently asked, what continuities and discontinuities existed between the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union with respect to their attitudes towards national minorities? Despite Bolshevik support for internationalism and national self-determination during the early period of the revolution, one key issue is how far the transition was simply a change in the form of a specifically Russian empire.

Richard Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism 1917-1923 (Cambridge, 1954).

In this classic study, Pipes argues that the Bolsheviks sought to use emergent nationalist movements in order to undermine both the state power of the autocracy and the White movement, only to then subject the minority nationalities to a higher degree of centralisation of power than in the Russian Empire.

Jeremy Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question, 1917-1923 (New York, 1999).

Smith follows the evolution of Bolshevik attitudes on the nationalities question from 1917 to the formulation of the ‘indigenisation’ policy of1923, arguing that the Bolsheviks actively sought to put their theories of self-determination into action as concerns their attempt to help foster minority national cultures within the early Soviet state.

Lars T. Lih, ‘Bolshevism’s “Services to the State”: Three Russian Observers’, Revolutionary Russia 28, 2 (2015), 118-39.

In this article, Lih shows how three thinkers from across the political spectrum interpreted the Bolshevik revolution as the means of creating a new centre of Russian state power after the collapse of Tsarism, a task they considered impossible for the Provisional Government but one essential for Russia to retain and develop its status as a great power.

  1. j) 1917 and the World

Some of the key questions historians have sought to answer concern how the revolution impacted upon Russia’s position in relation to foreign states. How did the revolution impact upon Russia’s strategic goals and methods of international diplomacy? And how did the changing networks of foreign relations affect the internal development of revolutionary Russia?

Richard K. Debo, Revolution and Survival: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1917-1918 (Toronto, 1979).

Debo argues that the foreign policy of the Bolsheviks, substantially determined by Lenin, quickly shifted from the utopian expectation of a quick end to the war and a world revolution to a pragmatic need to navigate a harsh international environment in order to ensure their own survival. However, Debo argues that Lenin’s Marxism informed the Soviet state’s ability to adjust to international events.

Alastair Kocho-Williams, Russia’s International Relations in the Twentieth Century (London, 2013), chapter 2, 26-41.

Kocho-Williams demonstrates an essential continuity between the diplomacy of the autocracy and the Provisional Government. He shows how the Bolsheviks rejected this model and initially sought to bypass inter-state diplomacy, but were forced back into the system of international diplomacy under the pressure of events.

Historians have highlighted how much the Bolsheviks staked on their expectation of a world revolution, while others have questioned how far the later doctrine of ‘Socialism in One Country’ associated with Josef Stalin can be traced to the early experiences of the revolutionary regime and to Bolshevik ideology under Lenin.

Kevin McDermott and Jeremy Agnew, The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin (Basingstoke, 1996).

In this overview to the topic, the authors show how the Comintern, set up in 1919 as a revolutionary rival to the socialist Second International with the intent of organising all revolutionary forces across the world, became subordinated to the needs of the Soviet state. They follow the organisation’s fortunes from the initial euphoria of the revolutionary years to its suppression under Stalin.

Erik Van Ree, ‘Socialism in One Country: A Reassessment’, Studies in East European Thought 50, 2 (1998), 77-117.

Ree highlights the internal ideological debates of the Bolshevik party, and of other Russian Marxists, in relation to the question of the possibility of achieving socialism in an isolated, backward nation. He follows the arguments as they progressed from the pre-revolutionary years through the revolution and up to the crucial debate begun in 1925, which saw Stalin’s faction victorious. He argues, in particular, that Lenin did conceive the possibility of building socialism in one country from 1917 onwards.

Boris A. Starkov, ‘Paths to World Socialist Revolution: West and East’ trans. Josephine Forsyth, in Cathryn Brennan and Murray Frame (eds.), Russia and the Wider World in Historical Perspective: Essays for Paul Dukes (Basingstoke, 2000), 153-67.

Starkov argues that belief in the imminence of world revolution informed Bolshevik thinking on foreign and domestic politics right through into the early 1920s. The initial expectation of a Western socialist revolution (beginning chiefly in Germany) gave way to an Eastern turn, by which the Bolsheviks supported national liberation movements in order to undermine Western imperialism and accelerate the world revolution.

Another key area of interest is how the Bolshevik revolution impacted on the world socialist movement, provoking a split between reformists and revolutionaries which conditioned the development both of the new Communist Parties (organised along Leninist lines in expectation of revolution) and the reformist socialist and labour parties, which became more generally committed to a parliamentary and reformist road to socialism.

Albert S. Lindemann, The ‘Red Years’: European Socialism versus Bolshevism, 1919-1921 (Berkeley, 1974).

This study by Lindemann looks at how European socialism (chiefly the German, French, and Italian socialist parties) responded to the Russian Revolution, with a particular emphasis on the complex and strained relations between the Bolsheviks and the Western socialists during the period 1919 to 1921, when hopes for a world revolution among many in both camps remained high.

Ian Bullock, Romancing the Revolution: The Myth of Soviet Democracy and the British Left (Edmonton, 2012).

In this book Bullock looks at how the Russian Revolution impacted upon the British socialist movement, becoming a powerful myth that attracted many on the Left. His particular concern is to understand how some socialists with a history of commitment to democracy came to see their democratic hopes embodied in the Russian ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, and how the rest of the socialist movement responded to this.

  1. k) 1917 in Wider Historical Context

One of the key broader questions around the Russian Revolution is, how can the Russian experience following 1917 be compared with other states of its time? Historians have considered whether its experience was more or less unique, ranking only with other ‘totalitarian’ societies in the first half of the twentieth century for example, or whether it shared certain factors common across modernising states.

Stephen Kotkin, ‘Modern Times: The Soviet Union and the Interwar Conjuncture’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 2, 1 (2001), 111-64.

A wide-ranging comparative article that puts the Russian experience in the context of the modern ‘age of the mass’, of mass culture, mass production, mass politics. Kotkin focuses in on the specificity of the Russian experience of modernity, and comes to talk of ‘modernities’ in the plural as opposed to the idea of a unilinear process of ‘modernization’.

Vladimir Tismaneanu, ‘Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (review)’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 10, 3 (2009), 724-9.

In this review of Robert Gellately’s book, Tismaneau draws out the argument for the specificity of the Soviet regime, arguing that the ideological belief in the ability of society to be re-shaped marks out the ‘totalitarian’ states of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler as special kinds. “… In the absence of ideology’, he argues, ‘these regimes would have remained traditional tyrannies’.

Historians have sought to understand ‘revolution’ in the abstract, drawing out the commonalities and differences of revolutions across the world and across the modern era. How can the Russian Revolution be compared to other periods of revolutionary upheaval? In this way, they have asked whether the Russian Revolution can be placed in the context of a long-term revolutionary process much bigger than itself affecting Europe and the world, or if it was something different.

Martin Malia, History’s Locomotives: Revolutions and the Making of the Modern World (New Haven, 2006).

In this work tracing the fortunes of revolution from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, Malia argues for the existence of ‘Great Revolutions’ marking the end of each nation’s ancien regime. For Malia, the Bolshevik revolution was an impossible caricature of a ‘Great Revolution’, proving by its ultimate failure that the process of European revolution had come to an end.

A. Smith, Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History (Cambridge, 2008).

Smith compares the experiences of migrants from the countryside to major cities in Russia and China around the time of their revolutions, arguing that in each case social identities shaped in their complex encounters with capitalist modernity influenced their responses to revolution.

Domenico Losurdo, War and Revolution: Rethinking the Twentieth Century (London, 2015).

In this broad historiographical overview of war and revolution stretching from the American and French revolutions of the late eighteenth century to the present day, Losurdo criticises the trend in historical thinking which sees October 1917 as the origin of the horrors of the twentieth century, emphasising instead the global context of colonial capitalism and world war.