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October
Cover of October
October
The Story of the Russian Revolution
Award-winning author China Miéville plunges us into the year the world was turned upside down
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville tells the extraordinary story of this pivotal moment in history.
In February of 1917 Russia was a backwards, autocratic monarchy, mired in an unpopular war; by October, after not one but two revolutions, it had become the world's first workers' state, straining to be at the vanguard of global revolution. How did this unimaginable transformation take place?
In a panoramic sweep, stretching from St Petersburg and Moscow to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire, Miéville uncovers the catastrophes, intrigues and inspirations of 1917, in all their passion, drama and strangeness. Intervening in long-standing historical debates, but told with the reader new to the topic especially in mind, here is a breathtaking story of humanity at its greatest and most desperate; of a turning point for civilisation that still resonates loudly today.
Award-winning author China Miéville plunges us into the year the world was turned upside down
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville tells the extraordinary story of this pivotal moment in history.
In February of 1917 Russia was a backwards, autocratic monarchy, mired in an unpopular war; by October, after not one but two revolutions, it had become the world's first workers' state, straining to be at the vanguard of global revolution. How did this unimaginable transformation take place?
In a panoramic sweep, stretching from St Petersburg and Moscow to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire, Miéville uncovers the catastrophes, intrigues and inspirations of 1917, in all their passion, drama and strangeness. Intervening in long-standing historical debates, but told with the reader new to the topic especially in mind, here is a breathtaking story of humanity at its greatest and most desperate; of a turning point for civilisation that still resonates loudly today.
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About the Author-
  • China Miéville is the multi-award-winning author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. His fiction includes The City and the City, Embassytown and This Census-Taker, and has won the Hugo, World Fantasy and Arthur C. Clarke awards; his non-fiction includes the photo-illustrated essay London's Overthrow and Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law. He has written for various publications, including the New York Times, Guardian, Conjunctions and Granta and he is a founding editor of the quarterly Salvage.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 6, 2017
    Miéville (The Last Days of New Paris) marks the centenary of Russia’s dual 1917 revolutions with this vivid and insightful study of the journey from the February Revolution, which “dispensed breakneck with a half-millennium of autocratic rule,” to Lenin’s October triumph. Situating these eight turbulent months within the city of St. Petersburg, the czarist capital and the birthplace of the uprisings, Miéville writes that the story is “above all the story of its streets.” He leads readers through these streets and the complicated relationships between competing, and often violently opposed, groups of radicals—old and new Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, and others—from workers’ strikes through Lenin’s proclamation of socialism and Russian withdrawal from WWI. Miéville is fully aware of the horrors that followed this massive achievement but convincingly argues that the Russian Revolution’s “degradation was not a given”; its formative moments carried immense potential for every kind of human liberation, which could so easily have become the dominant force of the new order. As an acclaimed storyteller with a doctorate in political philosophy and a commitment to leftist activism, Miéville is an ideal guide through this complex historical moment, giving agency to obscure and better-known participants alike, and depicting the revolution as both a tragically lost opportunity and an ongoing source of inspiration.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2017
    The award-winning fiction writer revisits the exciting, messy story of an explosive Russia on the brink of civil war.London-born novelist and political theorist Mieville (Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories, 2015, etc.) takes on the roiling events of the Russian Revolution on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik insurrection. From the beginning of 1917, events occurred at a dizzying pace and involved a rich cast of characters, which the author delineates at the end of the book in a -Glossary of Personal Names.- Mieville tells the story in a frank, mannerist fashion. Of course, since readers know the outcome (-purges, gulags, starvation, mass murder-), there is a sense of dark foreboding throughout. The author questions whether it was inevitable that Vladimir Lenin and his cohort would shift increasingly to the left and embrace violent insurrection. No: events were constantly shifting and up in the air, and Mieville presents the action with his novelist's eye. Looking to the -prehistory of 1917,- the author chronicles the cataclysmic changes in Russia in the late 19th century especially, including emancipation of the serfs in 1861 by Alexander II, who was assassinated by -People's Will- radicals in 1881. -The man of the future in Russia,- noted populist writer Alexander Herzen, -is the peasant.- The Marxists believed that autocratic Russia was not yet ripe for socialism. Thus, the events that unfolded over the next two decades, as the working class gained confidence and size, were inchoate until brought into sharper focus by external crises such as the Russo-Japanese War, anti-Jewish pogroms, the institution of a -consultative parliament,- the Duma, by Czar Nicolas II, and the deeply unpopular mobilization for war against Germany in 1914. It was a -fraught and protean political culture,- as the author writes, juggling the many activist protagonists such as Leon Trotsky, who was working to incorporate the incendiary ideals of Lenin. An intriguing march to revolution, told here with clarity and insight.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2017

    Although Tsar Nicholas II and mystic Grigori Rasputin have come to symbolize the Russian Revolution, Mieville (Perdido Street Station) recounts other pivotal figures (and events) in the months leading up to October 1917. The prerevolution months involved key players such as chief of staff Mikhail Alekseyev and Marxist activist Leon Trotsky negotiating first with the Tsar and then with each other. To complicate matters, the minority Mensheviks and Bolsheviks majority could not agree on what a provisional government should look like. Mensheviks believed the liberal bourgeoisie should take power; Bolsheviks argued for the proletariat to become ultimate leaders. Initially, the two parties were able to work together as Bolshevik leaders suggested the bourgeoisie should take power until the proletariat was ready for their own revolution. Although several players are involved, Mieville includes a beneficial glossary of names and a thorough overview of events, successfully tying together their motives and actions. VERDICT This riveting account offers a different aspect of the revolution that changed the course of Russian history. Recommended for all readers.--Sonnet Ireland, St. Tammany Parish P.L., Mandeville, LA

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Story of the Russian Revolution
China Miéville
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