The book this review is about is A Short History of the Russian Revolution by Joel Carmichael. Mr. Carmichael is a specialist in Soviet Studies and Russian history. Although the title of the book says “a short history” it was indeed very thorough by all accounts. It also includes several excerpts from The Russian Revolution 1917, A Personal Record, written by N. N. Sukhanov, translated and edited by Joel Carmichael.
The author of this book really wanted to convey to the reader what the Russian Revolution of 1917 meant to them. How even though the ideals that the Bolsheviks started with would soon be corrupted, and that the revolution itself is now sealed in the past, it impacted the world in more ways than one.
How we should never forget history. The book shows the history of the Russian Revolution in great detail and all of the aspects that lead to it are thoroughly explained; however, it was a little too thorough at times and quickly became disinteresting for a little while. Despite that, it was still a fascinating topic to learn about.
The author gives a very detailed account on the year leading up to the Bolshevik Party taking control. From February to October of 1917, every action that led to the end of Tzarist Russia is thoroughly explained. The prelude sets the stage and after that, the events of the Revolution of 1917 all is laid out.
The more sides of a story one hears, the better. It allows one to really see the whole story instead of just one perspective. The author was very good at providing different sides in certain parts of the book. He gave a large of outside opinions in the form of eyewitness accounts. In chapter 9 “Anticlimax – The July Days” (pages 95 to 109) the author uses eye-witness accounts on pages 98, 99, 101, 102, 103, and 104 to describe how the atmosphere of the “July Days” was. What happened from a personal view, instead of just hard facts laid out.
Even though reading hard cold facts are nice to do on occasion, knowing or learning about the reasons behind those facts is so much better. This is one thing the book definitely lacked. As previously mentioned, there are some chapters comprised mostly of eye-witness accounts; however, those are far and few between pages upon pages of dates and names. It is not until page 65, about a third of the way through the book, that the reader is given an eyewitness account of the events.
A Short History of the Russian Revolution felt as if it was anything but short. Even though it was only 219 pages, excluding the glossary and bibliography, each one was packed with so much information it was hard to keep up with it at times. While some pages flew by, others made it hard to keep one’s eyes on the page itself. However, all things considered, the author did a wonderful job presenting his thesis.
The author clearly spent a lot of time researching and backing up with facts every event that happened in the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917. His effort and dedication are clearly shown throughout the book. The book may not have been to certain people’s taste in writing styles, but that should not stop others from reading it.