PDF/EPUB A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924

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  • A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924
  • Orlando Figes
  • en
  • 09 March 2020
  • 9781721383900

Orlando Figes Ö 6 Read

Read A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 Download ¶ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Orlando Figes Ö 6 Read Opening with a panorama of Russian society from the cloistered world of the Tsar to the brutal life of the peasants A People's Tragedy follows workers soldiers intellectuals and villagers as their world is consumed by revolutio. If you thought the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones was brutal Orlando Figes wants to educate you You don t pick up a book like A People s Tragedy with the notion that it s going to be filled with newborn puppies ice cream giveaways and people finding rolled up and forgotten twenty dollar bills in their pockets If you do have that notion well you should really reread the title Even so the collection of misery in Figes massive history of the Russian Revolution is pretty overwhelming This is 824 pages of small font despair as the Russian people move from ruthless and ordered autocracy to ruthless and unordered Revolution before finally settling on a ruthless Soviet government as dictatorial and arbitrary as anything seen under the Tsars Contained between these two covers are all the things my wife tells me are not appropriate small talk for dinner parties War war as waged by fools the attendant slaughter of war as waged by fools revolution the attendant slaughter of revolution as waged by fanatics famine torture capriciousness shortsightedness disloyalty backstabbing and betrayal execution and murder This is the kind of book from which I had to take several breaks I just couldn t push all the way through The tragedy is so big The font is so small Helpfully the book is broken into manageable parts allowing me to dip in and out whenever I needed a dose of perspective Traffic is bad But at least my farm hasn t been taken over by a Bolshevik stooge Figes opens his narrative beautifully with a Barbara Tuchman like set piece that describes the 300 year anniversary of Romanov rule over all the Russias He then circles back to give a brief overview of that spotted reign before devoting approximately the next 150 pages to the workings of Russia under the Tsar Nicholas II I read this book as part of my Two Person Russian Book Club which includes me and my friend Jamie As part of our elite exclusive Book Club I m the founder President treasurer and drunk Jamie is the member Vice President and chief enabler we ve already read a couple books on Nicholas Alexandra and their doomed family Thus this first section seemed pretty straightforward and standard You have Nicholas II who rose to power far too soon after his father s early death inexpertly wielding his prerogatives without the faintest idea that the world had shifted off its axis Historian Margaret MacMillan is fond of describing Nicholas II as an ideal village postmaster I love that description because it fits him so wellat least to a point This is a guy of such strikingly limited abilities that I would hesitate to let him manage my slow pitch softball team Yet he led one of the great powers on Earth with almost no brakes on his powers Part of him never seemed to want the job He loved and doted on his family He filled his diary with the most insipid banalities He probably could have lived a long and immeasurably happier life if he d just retired to a dacha somewhere and let someone anyone else rule in his place And yet at the same time he fiercely guarded his powers When his people wanted an inch he gave them a centimeter Eventually his people took a mile By the time he realized his destiny was to be an average man a good father a caring husband and a somnolent diarist it was far too late The second part of the book covering the years from 1891 1917 covers the gradual erosion of the Tsar A disastrous war against Japan a social revolution and many unforced Tsarist errors served to weaken the monarchy In 1914 Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and Russia suddenly found itself the linchpin of history their choice to mobilize or not to support Serbia or not is one of the biggest factors in the July Crisis tipping towards general European war Nicholas s choice to go to war kind of feels like the choice of a troubled couple to have a kid or a second or third or fourth kid to paper over a bad marriage Hey maybe if we go to war all the people will love me again It didn t work that way The story of Tsar Nicholas s abdication his imprisonment in Ekaterinburg s House of Special Purpose and his and his family s murder is a familiar story and Figes does not spend much time on this death pageant Instead he takes a deep dive into the workings and failures of the Provisional Government and the plotting and scheming of the Bolshevik takeoverIn telling this Figes takes pains to present many points of view There is the obvious focus on the big names Lenin Trotsky Gorky and rightfully so But he also finds peasants and workingmen and peasants who became workingmen to demonstrate how the Revolution began from the bottom up and where it got its support He makes an admirable attempt to follow certain people throughout the entire process tracing their personal fortunes along with the ebb and flow of the wider historical moments Unsurprisingly many of these people s stories end dismally Figes also does not neglect to mention Rasputin s penis Rasputin s assassin and alleged homosexual lover Felix Yusupov claimed that his prowess was explained by a large wart strategically situated on his penis which was of exceptional size On the other hand there is evidence to suggest that Rasputin was in fact impotent and that while he lay naked with many women he had sex with very few of them In short he was a great lecher but not a great lover When Rasputin was medically examined after being stabbed in a failed murder attempt in 1914 his genitals were found to be so small and shriveled that the doctor wondered whether he was capable of the sexual act at all Rasputin himself had once boasted to the monk Iliodor that he could lie with women without feeling passion because his penis did not function History It s in the detailsAt this point I should mention that I don t know a ton about Russian history Once Nicholas II was off the stage I was in the wilderness I know I just made a big deal about my Two Person Russian Book Club But really we re a lot of talk and some wine I m not an expert I m at the point in my life where I can still get Kerensky and Kornilov confused if I m not paying close attention I also have little knowledge to draw on when it comes to the ideological underpinnings of the Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks or what it means to be a Marxist Fox News tell me it s bad but this is not tremendously helpful That s why it s telling that I still enjoyed this book so much It is unbelievably dense and relatively long it s tremendously long when compared to most books only relatively long when compared to books by Russians or about Russia but still manageable Figes is a generous enough writer to lead a relative novice through this thorny complex heavily peopled period relatively unscathed On the other hand I don t think this is an entry level volume It covers too much ground at too high a level to say that What kept me grounded and reading was Figes s relentless attention to the human detail He doesn t get lost in abstract political theorizing He focuses on Rasputin s penis personalities and uirks and circumstances and tough choices This is an individual based telling of history where people s decisions matter Tolstoy probably would have disapproved I on the other hand thought it was great This is a huge book befitting a huge subject and Figes gives it the treatment it deserves It is authored by that rare combination an expert who can also write It took some patience and Yellow Tail breaks to complete but it was well worth the effort

Read A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924

A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924

Read A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 Download ¶ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Orlando Figes Ö 6 Read Unt of how and why it unfolded  Now including a new introduction that reflects on the revolution's centennial legacy A People's Tragedy is a masterful and definitive record of one of the most important events in modern histor. In this work Figes makes two arguments that are not fully apparent until the conclusion First the Russian people were not betrayed by the Revolution Instead the devolution of the Revolution was in Figes s view the result of the inability of the Russian people to come to terms with democratic institutions He finds that the period between 1905 1914 represented Russia s liberal democratic revolution but it did not produce the reforms necessary to instill confidence in the Russian people Indeed the Bolsheviks were a veritable product of the Russian messianic tradition Second it was not the leaders of the Revolution who were necessarily at fault Figes admits that Lenin Trotsky Stalin Kerensky and numerous others arrived in 1917 with truly high minded noble goals Instead Figes argues that the goals of revolutionary leaders were outright unattainable and were doomed to failPerhaps Figes is right but I disagree with him on both accounts To me the first argument reeks of Western chauvinism with the implication that we Westerners could properly democratize due to our democratic heritage ignoring Germany s failures with democracy before 1945 and utter success after the development of fascism and authoritarianism in Spain and Italy France s difficult relationship with liberal democracy etc On his second point no pathway was a fait accompli for the Revolution Instead there were numerous decisions made some of which would have led to greater democratization some to authoritarianism than we saw even in the Stalinist period Perhaps the ideals of the Revolution were too great to be implemented in reality but Revolutionaries could have adopted policies that brought the Russian state closer to their ideals without abandoning them outright I think that the Russian Revolution was necessary and that it was not innately bad but I think Figes downplays the decisions that were made in his conclusion The last paragraph of the book however seems almost prophetic being written even before Putin took powerPerhaps even worrying authoritarian nationalism has begun to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of Communism and in a way has reinvented it not just in the sense that today s nationalists are for the most part reformed Communists but also in the sense that their violent rhetoric with its calls for discipline and order its angry condemnation of the ineualities produced by the growth of capitalism and its xenophobic reject of the West is itself adapted from the Bolshevik tradition The ghosts of 1917 have not been laid to restToday as we are well aware nationalism is the guiding ideology of the modern Russian state and it is rather authoritarian This fits further in Figes s view that Russians have not learned to be good liberals but I think it says about global patterns than something specifically Russian Although former Soviet states held the vanguard of resurgent nationalism it is now a global phenomenon ranging from Poland s Law and Justice to Turkey s AKP and India s BJP Even the American GOP and British Conservative Party have in many ways turned to authoritarian nationalism Yet there is nothing inevitable about this turn I find it uneuivocally bad but it is as we should be well aware not intrinsic to the Russian people

review ↠ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Ö Orlando Figes

Read A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 A People's Tragedy The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 Download ¶ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Orlando Figes Ö 6 Read N and then degenerates into violence and dictatorship Drawing on vast original research Figes conveys above all the shocking experience of the revolution for those who lived it while providing the clearest and most cogent acco. This is at one and the same time a very long book and a fascinating one As a exhaustive study of Russian history from the reign of Nicholas II to the death of Lenin it is epic in its sweep The only reasons I could not find it in me to give it five stars are the following1 Orlando Figes has developed a reputation for controversy First he wrote reviews for Com under an assumed name Birkbeck in which he excoriated competing writers on Russian history blaming them at first on his wife Secondly in his most recent work he has been assailed for misrepresentations and gross inaccuracies Both of these events came after the 1997 publication of A People s Tragedy A History of the Russian Revolution which seemed to this unsophisticated reader as a work displaying an admirable sense of balance2 The last third of the book about the Civil War showed some exhaustion in its composition There were so many parties over and above the Reds and the Whites including the Komuch the Don Cossacks Makhno s Ukrainian partisans Petliura s partisans to name just a few Also there were at least a dozen occasions when Figes would suddenly conclude that the main reason the Whites lost was A or B or C down to Z All were convincing reasons but they led to a loss of focus in this section3 This is not something I usually complain about and it has nothing to do with Figes at all but Viking the publisher For some reason the number one was shown as a capital I Hence monstrosities such as the year I9I9 Also in the Italic font used the letter b and the letter h were indistinguishable Hence the word burzhooi Russian for bourgeois looks like burzbooi whenever it appearsIn the end I think that Figes has done an admirable job compacting than thirty years of turbulent history broken into four epochs Tsarism the February Revolution the October Revolution and the Civil War into merely 824 pages Also I think his conclusions are by and large on the markBut Russia s prospects as a democratic nation depend to a large extent on how far the Russians are able to confront their own recent history and this must entail the recognition that however much the people were oppressed by it the Soviet system grew up in Russian soil It was the weakness of Russia s democatic culture which enabled Bolshevism to take root This was the legacy of Russian history of centuries of serfdom and autocratic rule that had kept the common people powerless and passive And the people remained silent was a Russian proverb and it describes much of Russian history To be sure this was a people s tragedy but it was a tragedy which they helped to make The Russian people were trapped by the tyranny of their own historyAh well I guess the book deserves four and a half stars It kept me on the edge of my toes for eleven long days of reading the book