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This collection of essays examines the history of Russia from its medieval beginnings as the kingdom of Kievan Rus' to the collapse of the USSR and the current state of this complex nation. Stein edits this work chronologically, arranging essays from sources as diverse as History Today, National Geographic and Fortune magazine into a coherent whole ending with such current events as Russia's relations with China, and recent subway bombings. The text is peppered with photographs and tables, and includes a complete bibliography and subject index. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Blackwell Publishing
"Enthuslastically recommended for school, public, and college libraries."---Library Journal

"A well-organized, quality resource with an outstanding price. The inclusion of the 2008 National High school policy debate topic is an extra incentive to use this database...Deserves an A." ---School Library Journal

Now on Wilson Web---An easy-to-use, accessible "information hub" providing well-rounded examinations of headline topics. Complements your Reference Shelf collection with new subjects, articles, Web links, and updated information you won't find in the print series.

Publisher: New York : H.W. Wilson Co., 2010
ISBN: 9780824210991
Characteristics: viii, 214 p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 26 cm
Additional Contributors: Stein, Richard Joseph


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Jan 06, 2019

p. 43-44, 47: Politically, the Bolshevik party faced massive opposition following its seizure of power in 1917. The Social Revolutionaries (the party of the peasants) had more support in the countryside, whilst the Bolsheviks (the party of the proletariat) did not command the overwhelming support of the Soviets. Nevertheless, having made so much political capital out of the Provisional Government’s failure to call a Constituent Assembly through 1917, Lenin had no choice but to call elections immediately. For the Bolsheviks, the results were depressingly predictable: they gained barely a quarter of the available seats, whilst the SRs gained almost half.

Given his precarious position, Lenin’s response to this setback at first sight appears reckless: he contemptuously dissolved the Assembly, calling his action ‘true democracy’ because he knew the needs of the proletariat better than they did themselves. He then set up Soviets throughout the country in a desperate attempt to break the power of the SR-dominated Zemstvos. By the end of May 1918 Lenin felt confident enough to expel opposition parties from the Central Executive Committee and to declare that ‘our party stands at the head of soviet power. Decrees and measures of soviet power emanate from our party.’ Trotsky justified this by saying that ‘We have trampled underfoot the principles of democracy for the sake of the loftier principles of a social revolution’. By the time of Lenin’s death political opposition parties had been formally banned and the Bolshevik Party (renamed the Communist Party in 1919) reigned supreme.

…The weakness of their opponents made it much easier for the Bolsheviks to crush them. In summer 1918 a failed rebellion by the SRs in Moscow and an assassination attempt on Lenin persuaded the Bolsheviks to unleash the ‘Red Terror’. This was presided over by the CHEKA, formed shortly after the October Revolution under the leadership of Dzerzhinsky (‘we stand for organised terror: this should be frankly stated’). Within months, membership of the Menshevik and SR parties had fallen by two-thirds. The following year, Victor Serge felt that the Soviet state had ‘reverted to the procedures of the Inquisition’ and by the time of Lenin’s death an estimated 250,000 opponents had been liquidated. early 1918 the honeymoon was over. The loss of Ukraine, disruption of transport routes and the break-up of the most profitable farms produced chronic food shortages in Petrograd and Moscow which pushed the Bolsheviks towards a policy of requisition and collectivization. Requisitioning was depicted in propaganda as a war of the poor peasants against the Kulaks, but in reality the average peasant resented grain requisitioning by workers and party officials from the towns. In 1918 over 7,000 members of requisition squads were murdered.

...Initially, the proletariat formed the bedrock of Bolshevik support, and, Lenin—arguing that 'any worker will master a ministry within a few days’—used workers' factory committees as a means of controlling management and directing economic policy. However, as with the peasantry, the honeymoon period did not last. Economic crisis convinced Lenin that the workers lacked the self-discipline to supply the Red Army with its essential needs. So in 1918 he introduced compulsory labour for all citizens between the ages of 16 and 50 and limited the influence of the Workers' Councils by setting up a Supreme Council of the National Economy staffed by former plant owners, managers, and other bourgeois specialists ('knowledgeable, experienced, business-like people’).

…By 1921, the policy of War Communism had brought the country to the verge of chaos. In the countryside, around 6 million peasants had died of starvation and reports circulated in the foreign press that mothers were tying their children to opposite corners of their huts for fear that they would eat each other.


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