The Bolsheviks in Power
The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd

Rabinowitch, Alexander
Publisher:  Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis
Year Published:  2007  
Pages:  494pp   Price:  $21.95  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX8517

Abstract:  The Bolsheviks in Power is divided into four parts. The first deals with the debates over an all-party “socialist” coalition government and the convocation of the bourgeois-democratic Constituent Assembly. A second centers on the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with Germany, while another describes the ensuing rupture with the peasant-based Left SRs, culminating in their provocative assassination of the German ambassador, Count Mirbach. The concluding section addresses the Red Terror carried out by the Bolshevik regime in the context of civil war and pro-imperialist conspiracies by the counterrevolutionary Whites.

As in his earlier books, Rabinowitch provides a great amount of detail in describing the staggering challenges faced by the proletarian class dictatorship in its first year. We see how the imperialist war, the civil war and the deepening economic collapse combined to sap the strength of the proletariat of Petrograd, seat of the revolution, and the consciousness of the red Kronstadt naval garrison, which had played a crucial role in the revolution. Rabinowitch offers some useful insights into the tensions faced by the Bolsheviks in simultaneously carrying out party work and administering the government at a time when the most reliable and class-conscious workers were deployed to fill the gaps on every front of the revolution, from the emerging Red Army to the struggles against famine and counterrevolutionary terror. Perhaps most valuable is Rabinowitch’s illumination of the collaboration between Lenin’s internal opponents and currents outside the party.

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