Read Three "Whys" of the Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes Free Online
Book Title: Three "Whys" of the Russian Revolution|
The author of the book: Richard Pipes
Date of issue: May 27th 1997
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 797 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.7
ISBN 13: 9780679776468
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I first read Richard Pipes’ book Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution in high school, back in the late 1990’s, after I took an excellent class called “Russia in the 20th century,” which piqued my interest in Russian history. I re-read Pipes’ book this winter, and I was impressed by his analysis of the Russian Revolution.
Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution is a short book, just 84 pages long, and it’s a distillation of some of the ideas that Pipes presented in his 1991 book The Russian Revolution. The three questions that Pipes seeks to answer in the book are:
1. Why did tsarism fall?
2. Why did the Bolsheviks succeed?
3. Why did Stalin succeed Lenin?
Pipes argues that there was nothing inevitable about the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917, making the point that even Vladimir Lenin predicted in January 1917 that he would not live to see a revolution in Russia. (p.12)
Pipes also makes a compelling case for the Bolsheviks’ triumph as being one of a cunning coup d’état mixed with good luck, rather than a genuine popular uprising. Pipes writes: “The Bolsheviks seized power in Russia because it had become available for a power seizure. Were the choice up to them, they would much rather have taken over Germany or England.” (p.65) Certainly Karl Marx would have been shocked to learn that the first Communist government in the world was instituted in Russia.
Pipes is very anti-Communist, and is one of the more conservative historians of the Russian Revolution. In his answer to why Stalin succeeded Lenin, he writes: “I have yet to see a satisfactory Marxist explanation why history, after the death of Lenin, took a thirty-year detour by vesting what Lenin himself had called ‘unbounded power’ in a despot whom the revisionists regard as a traitor to the cause of Leninism.” (p.64) Pipes writes that Stalin was the most competent Communist politician, and thus a somewhat logical choice to succeed Lenin. Pipes also writes that “Lenin does not seem to have penetrated Stalin’s personality and noticed the mass killer lurking in his black soul.” (p.83)
Three Whys of the Russian Revolution is a good, short introduction to some of the most interesting questions surrounding the Russian Revolution. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Russian history.
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Read information about the authorBorn in Poland, Richard Pipes fled the country with his family when Germany invaded it in 1939. After reaching the United States a year later, Pipes began his education at Muskingum College, which was interrupted in 1943 when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps and sent to Cornell to study Russian. He completed his bachelor's degree at Cornell in 1946 and earned his doctorate at Harvard University four years later.
Pipes taught at Harvard from 1950 until his retirement in 1996, and was director of Harvard's Russian Research Center from 1968-1973. A campaigner for a tougher foreign policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War, in 1976, he led a group of analysts in a reassessment of Soviet foreign policy and military power. He served as director of Eastern European and Soviet affairs at the National Security Council from 1981 until 1983, after which he returned to Harvard, where he finished his career as Baird Professor Emeritus of History.
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