Against the Current
A Review of China Mieville's book, The Story of the Russian Revolution, Verso Books, 2017, 384 pages, $26.95 hardcover. China Mieville, the award-winning science fiction/speculative fiction writer, accurately describes his history of the Russian Revolution “for everyone.” This is a well-paced, detailed but readily readable account of the Russian Revolution,
On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the author takes aim at the narrative that socialism crumbled in the Soviet Union under its own weight, brought about by inherent weaknesses and contradictions of socialism. Instead the case is made that a concerted and relentless 10-year secret war by the Reagan Administration so weakened the Soviet economy and Soviet psyche, along with missteps by the Soviet leadership, that socialism was overthrown.
The first purpose of the book is to tell the story for readers who don’t necessarily know anything about the Russian Revolution, who want to know what happened when, the stakes, the rhythms, the events. This is not a history of the Russian Revolution for leftists, but for everyone; it is, though, a history of the Russian Revolution for everyone by a leftist.
On the centennial of the Russian Revolution, John Reed's first-hand look at the uprising of workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors is fit reading about a mass movement that overthrew the old aristocracy and then the bourgeois class itself. An exposition on ordinary people making history for themselves, the book is a gripping account of events in Petrograd, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks lead the various workers councils in finally seizing state power.
Los Angeles Review of Books
China Miéville looks at the Revolution as a hopeful flashpoint that briefly showed the promise of socialist transformation, before descending first into an authoritarian nightmare and then today's corrupt capitalism. Written with an urgency designed for our era of struggle absent clear political ideologies or unified mass socialist organizations, Mieville focuses on the revolutionary moment, using his skill as a story teller to see the participants in real time.
International Socialist Review
The author argues that the Terror of the French Revolution was a price worth paying, and that the lessons from overthrowing the old regime should temper today's trend of maligning oppressed people's resort to violence as itself a rationale for ongoing class injustices. The reviewer, no critic of revolutionary struggle, argues that the author overemphasizes the pursuit of vengeance then and now involved at the expense of politics and a weighing of class forces.
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