The Bolsheviks in Power
Now in Paperback

The Bolsheviks in Power

The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd
Alexander Rabinowitch
Distribution: World
Publication date: 7/17/2008
Format: paper 520 pages, 25 b&w photos, 2 maps
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-22042-4
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A major contribution to the historiography of the world in the 20th century, The Bolsheviks in Power focuses on the fateful first year of Soviet rule in Petrograd. It examines events that profoundly shaped the Soviet political system that endured through most of the 20th century. Drawing largely from previously inaccessible Soviet archives, it demolishes standard interpretations of the origins of Soviet authoritarianism by demonstrating that the Soviet system evolved ad hoc as the Bolsheviks struggled to retain political power amid spiraling political, social, economic, and military crises. The book covers issues such as the rapid fall of influential moderate Bolsheviks, the formation of the dreaded Cheka, the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the Red Terror, the national government's flight to Moscow, and the subsequent rivalry between Russia's new and old capitals.

Author Bio

Alexander Rabinowitch is Professor Emeritus of History at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is author of Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising (IUP, 1968) and The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.


"A meticulous and fine-grained study of the first year of 'soviet rule' in Petrograd. . . . Rabinowitch maintains a dispassionate tone and is scrupulously measured in his judgments. . . . His book can justly be said to provide a definitive political history of the city during the first year of Bolshevik rule." —Steve Smith, New Left Review , August, 2008

"This briskly written, often riveting study of the evolution of Bolshevik authoritarianism . . . provides a salutary corrective to the school of historiography that views Soviet communism as totalitarian by nature." —
The Atlantic , December 2008

"Thirty-one years have passed since the author's
The Bolsheviks Come to Power . . . , the second volume in a projected trilogy on the Russian Revolution. The first two volumes documented Bolshevik success in the destruction of the Provisional Government in 1917. This third volume tells about the first year of Bolshevik power after the insurrection in October and the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly. . . . Rabinowitch display[s] broad control of sources . . . Recommended." —Choice

"A significant work of historical scholarship. It will serve, for years to come, as an essential reference point for the study of the political and social aftermath of the overthrow of the bourgeois Provisional Government and the establishment of the Bolshevik regime. In contrast to so many others working in the field of Soviet studies, who have adapted themselves to the prevailing climate of intellectual dishonesty and cynicism, Professor Rabinowitch has not compromised his integrity as a scholar. He has produced an important contribution." —World Socialist Review

"Rabinowitch's . . . reconstruction of Bolshevik politics from the first to the second October under Soviet rule gives altogether familiar events an unfamiliar and far deeper resonance. . . . [His] fine-grained history gives to largely foretold events a texture and complexity absent before." —Foreign Affairs

"Rabinowitch has culled an astonishing amount of new information from long closed archives . . . a compelling narrative accessible to specialists and general readers alike." —Stephen F. Cohen, author of Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia

"Rabinowitch demonstrates total mastery of the rich source material; a stunning command of politics during a time of crisis, turmoil, and shifting allegiances; confident, crystal—clear prose; originality; and profound appreciation of the circumstances in which his protagonists found themselves. . . . His new study addresses a central question of twentieth-century Russian history: what happened to the promises of 1917? Maintaining that his earlier efforts raised as many questions as they answered, he seeks to understand how the relatively democratic and decentralized Bolshevik party became transformed into 'one of the most highly centralized, authoritarian political organizations in modern history.'" —Donald J. Raleigh, University of North Carolina

"This masterful volume . . . fills a gaping hole in the historiography of the Russian Tevolution and the Soviet Union. . . . [How was] the party's relatively open, decentralized, and democratic structure . . . transformed into 'the highly centralized, ultra-authoritarian Bolshevik political system' of Soviet Russia? . . . The details behind [Rabinowitch's] conclusive answer make up this rich, detailed, fascinating. book." —Rex A. Wade,
American Historical Review

"Alexander Rabinowitch’s account of the first year of Bolshevik politics is a work of outstanding merit that sets a standard rarely achieved in the genre of political history. . . . It is a history full of heroes, fools, and fanatics, yet recounted in a sober and nonjudgmental manner, a labor of love, over two decades in the making, the work of a skilled and devoted craftsman." —Slavic Review , Spring 2010

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution in Petrograd
Part I: The Defeat of the Moderates
Chapter 1
Forming a Government

Chapter 2
Rebels into Rulers
Chapter 3
Gathering Forces
Chapter 4
The Fate of the Constituent Assembly

Part II: War or Peace
Chapter 5
Fighting Lenin
Chapter 6
"The Socialist Fatherland Is in Danger"

Chapter 7
An Obscene Peace
Part III: Soviet Power on the Brink
Chapter 8
A Turbulent Spring
Chapter 9
Continuing Crises
Chapter 10
The Northern Commune and the Bolshevik-Left SR Alliance
Chapter 11
The Suicide of the Left SRs
Part IV: Celebration amid Terror
Chapter 12
The Road to "Red Terror"
Chapter 13
The Red Terror in Petrograd
Chapter 14
Celebrating "the Greatest Event in the History of the World"
Chapter 15
Price of Survival
Chronology of Key Events

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