This book is a first hand account of the October Revolution from the American author who actively participated in the it. While the book's central theThis book is a first hand account of the October Revolution from the American author who actively participated in the it. While the book's central theme is the final few days running into the revolution, which led to the fall of Provincial government at the hands of Lenin's Bolsheviks, the author has given accounts of the February Revolution which makes for a comprehensive reading of the Russian revolution.
I reached out to this book after reading a section on Communist Revolution in Hobsbawn's Age of Extremes. So its important to have the knowledge of the Russian Revolution before picking this, otherwise too much information right from the beginning can easily unsettle you.
Russian revolution can be broken down into 2 parts. In the first, the February Revolution, the monarchy diffused and gave way to the Provincial government. There was hardly any resistance from the Tsar who was abdicated by the leaderless and disorganized street protests. These protests were largely a result of world war 1 which led to widespread discontent among masses.
Although the Tsar regime came to an end and Provincial government took the reigns, the discontent still persisted. The provincial government, which was supported by bourgeois, and by other left factions who were fearful of Lenin's Bolsheviks' rise, ignored the masses. They continued to fight against Germany. They even failed to meet the demand of the workers and labors, from whose support they came to power. This led to the rise of Bolsheviks led by Lenin and Trotsky who garnered support in Soviets (village councils) and among workers and unions. The Bolsheviks were also against the Russia's fight against Germany which helped them to unite with the Army.
The moment was ripe for the second phase of Revolution, the November Revolution, which led to the downfall of Western-oriented Provincial government, and the rise of Communist Bolsheviks. The book centers around November revolution and gives a detailed insight into the social and political happenings of the time.
The author writes about the conversation he had with the Bolsheviks member and the assemblies of Soviets in which they discuss about the revolution. He also writes about the bourgeois class and how they wanted the Germany to take over Russia to keep the revolutionaries silent. This book, as a result, is great in its scope and vivid in its details.
My purpose for reading this book was to understand the nature of revolution, the mechanism of revolution, and to understand the response of society and politics during a revolution of a scale such as this which had a cascading effect on almost all parts of the world. The fact that the author had written about the revolution while he was involved in it, makes this book a unique study into the Russian Revolution, or October Revolution more specifically.
From the outset, it is easy to label it as an academic adventure with full of implicit arguments and complicated 19th century writing. But that is not the case. Reed has written about the Revolution in a most straightforward and lucid manner. The writing is surprisingly poetic and can easily qualify as bed-time read. And for that reason, while I thought I got to read it in segments for about a week, I managed to read it down in one big night -- that too without the need of coffee!