The red line in Russia’s history

Tony Barber finds a more textured picture of the revolutionary period in the new crop of history books

The World Today
5 minute READ

Tony Barber

Europe Editor, Financial Times

The Russian Revolution: A New History Sean McMeekin, Profile Books, £25

The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution Robert Service, Macmillan, £25

Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890-1928 SA Smith, Oxford University Press, £25


Like 1789, when the French Revolution broke out, 1917 is a year remembered as one of the great fault lines in modern history. The United States entered the First World War in April, a step that paved the way to US leadership of the western world in the second half of the 20th century. In Russia, the Tsarist regime collapsed in March and Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks seized power in November, building a totalitarian communist system that at its peak ruled over one-third of the human race.

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