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  • E.G. Maladroit

Sheila Fitzatrick: The Russian Revolution

Sheila Fitzpatrick’s history of ‘The Russian Revolution’ is an exemplar insight into the formation of the Soviet Union and a comprehensive history of its continuation up to 1932. Despite coming into reading it with a negative preconception of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s writing style I thoroughly enjoyed the book from start to end. I previously disliked ‘On Stalin’s Team’ for its slightly presumptuous tone, so I particularly appreciated the unemotive and matter-of-fact style, especially in tandem with the tasteful and succinct framing of events. It is a book I would highly recommend as either a very competent entry-point to the Russian Revolution, or to anyone already interested in the period as it is highly enjoyable.

Unlike some similarly sized historical books it does not feel lacking in any way. A point of comparison would be with Jonathon Spence’s 200-page biography on Mao, which dissimilarly felt rather lifeless in illustrating the dictator. Due to the nature of the revolution, and her lesser focus on individual characters (rather favouring explanations of events, their causes and their consequences) it does not suffer the same issues, despite it’s even smaller 161-page count. As is aforementioned, the style in very easily readable, with no issues getting through it quickly. Additionally, unlike the majority of historical non-fiction, it does not need (for ease of reading) to be consumed in large chunks to keep the momentum going – as it is easily picked up and put down in short intervals. This especially lends it to newer readers in the era, as it is much less daunting than other options.

Unclouded by superfluous judgements, the book provides an astounding level of detail for its briefness. Providing almost completely encompassing historical context, it leaves nothing unexplained, and does not devolve into annoying political agendas or moral relativism. It is short, to the point, and well worth reading.


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