People's Tragedy

Orlando Figes, Author, Professor Orlando Figes, Author, Figes, Author Viking Books $39.95 (960p) ISBN 978-0-670-85916-0
Packed with vivid human detail and incident, British historian Figes's monumental social and political history spans Russia's entire revolutionary period, from the czarist government's floundering during the famine of 1891 to Lenin's death in 1924, by which time all the basic institutions of the Soviet dictatorship--a privileged ruling elite, random terror, secret police, torture, mass executions, concentration camps--were in place. Figes dismantles any number of myths surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, a military coup rammed through at Lenin's insistence (""hardly any of the Bolshevik leaders had wanted it to happen until a few hours before it began""). Using diaries, letters, memoirs and archival documents, Cambridge don Figes provides masterful portraits of cynical, power-hungry Lenin, driven by an absolute faith in his mission; Alexander Kerensky, weak-willed, vain democratic leader, the self-styled savior of Russia; writer Maxim Gorky, plagued by the fear--and later by the terrible realization--that the ""people's revolution"" was a descent into barbarism; Tolstoyan peasant reformer Sergei Semenov; and dozens of lesser-known figures. In this vibrant magnum opus, Figes illumines the manifold sources of Russia's failure to take a democratic path. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 1024 pages - 978-0-14-024364-2
Paperback - 960 pages - 978-1-84792-291-5
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