Russian Revolution Sheila Fitzptrick Author's Writing Style Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Russian Revolution Sheila Fitzptrick

Author's Writing Style and Book Organization

Author Point-of-View

Sheila Fitzptrick is a well-known writer who has written more than ten books on modern Russian society and its history. 'Russian Revolution' is one of her recent books. This paper will highlight some of the facts in relation to the October Revolution in Russia as highlighted in a more opinionated manner by the author.

Author's Writing Style and Book Organization

There is no doubt about the fact that the 'Russian Revolution' is a great example of the immense writing talents that Sheila Fitzptrick has. The level of interest that the book attracts can be defined by the immensely skilled writing technique used by the author herself. The book, which can be more defined as being a slim volume, is a great example of a thought provoking book that compels its readers to analyze and imagine the events given in the book. More importantly, the book highlights the history of Russia and the major political changes taking place in the Russian society beginning from the early 20th century to 1930s. It can be added here that the author has attempted to criticize many conspiratorial explanations and accounts given of the Russian revolution. The book has highlighted all the events related to the October Revolution. Many books have highlighted the events that relate to the rise of Bolsheviks in the revolution. In most of the accounts given, conclusion is the fall of the Russian provisional government in 1917 or an end of Russian Civil War in 1922. As compared to these facts, the author highlights that the revolution in Russia did not end until the end of the five-year plan in the year of 1932 (Fitzpatrick 45). One of the main differences in the older accounts of the Russian October revolution and the accounts given in the 'Russian Revolution' is that the Stalinist Revolution along with the Great Purges of 1938 have been included as an interval seizure that took place in between the Tsarist autocracy and Soviet-style communism. While reading the book, it becomes clear that the book has a topical as well as chronological structure that lets the readers stay in touch with the facts given in the book.

Author Point-of-View

The author believes that the Bolshevik Revolution was meant to get rid of the backwardness in Russian society. The author personally believes that every human society has the right to develop and look for even better opportunities, based on which the history has witnessed many revolutions. There are two main themes highlighted in the 'Russian Revolution'. The first theme of the book highpoints that the Bolshevik Revolution was intended to increase industrialization and modernization in Russian society (Fitzpatrick 25). Second main theme of the book has highlighted that class struggle became the main slogan of the Bolshevik party and the proletariats. The author has highlighted that Soviet history has witnessed revolutionary terrorism and violence being a consistent motif and a formula for the Communist party.

The reason of the rise of revolutions in Russia is the first chosen opinion from the book. The author has argued that all revolutions that took place in Russia before 1917 were a great contradiction to the theories given by Karl Marx that relate to the overthrow of capitalism and the many stages of historical development in Russia. Secondly, the author expresses complete disagreement with the fact that the Westerns consider internal commanding strength of the Bolshevik party as the main reason of success of October revolution.

The author in the book has supported the two opinions with the help of strong supporting facts. In the case of the first opinion, the author has argued that before 1917, most of the Russian population was composed of rural peasants. According to the theories given by Karl Marx, if capitalism from Russia was to be thrown over, Russians needed a much higher density of urban industrial proletariats rather rural peasants. If this scenario was keenly observed by Marx, than there is no doubt that he would have seen that Russians were not ready for any revolutions (Fitzpatrick 76). This inconsistency has been explained in a number of ways by the author. Firstly, the author has mentioned that in those days, a great number of attacks were being launched by the state towards the trade unions in Russia. The state had large investments in the native industry of Russia that promised protection to the foreign investment in Russia. Secondly, conservativeness was the main difference between the Russian peasantry and the western European peasantry as Russian peasantry was much less conservative. In addition, author has argued that most of the Russian peasantry was employed as industrial workers who would migrate from towns or cities in search of seasonal and temporary labor for the supplementation of meager farm based incomes. All of these conditions resulted in Russian peasantry embrace revolution which also provided Vladimir Lenin with the most important confederate in the wake of October Revolution.

In order to support her second opinion, the author argues that Vladimir Lenin was consistently insisting that the provisional government should be thrown off and disavowed. The second main fact given by the author is that Vladimir Lenin had made a decision to embrace obdurate radicalism, which was considered to be on an extreme opposite to the political gamut. If these two facts were applied than there is no doubt that Bolshevik party would be seen and analyzed by the Russians as the only Russian political party free from coalition and compromise politics. The fact that the Westerners believed that inner strength of the Bolsheviks was the reason of their success in the October revolution has been denied by the author by highlighting the fact that most of the Bolsheviks at that time were either in prison, laying low, or in exile in Petrograd. One of the main reasons that the author has attributed to the success of the Bolsheviks in October Revolution was their increased participation and support in street revolts and protests and staying with the revolutionary crowd that mostly consisted of the belligerent and irresponsible Russians. Doing this, the Bolshevik party had the perfect opportunity and the benefit as they had the opportunity to join Lenin and his presenters. Author has added that when Bolsheviks seized control of the country in 1917, the revolution actually began. The Russian civil war helped reshape the Bolshevik party in many ways. One of the main ways is that Russian Civil War played very important roles in the militarization of a more revolutionized political culture in Russia. This revolution as well as militarization made sure that the Bolsheviks start relying on political coercion, authoritarianism as well as a centralized management as these are the main factors that could help the Bolsheviks in surviving in the new Soviet state (Fitzpatrick 98). On the other hand, the author has also highlighted that political coercion, authoritarianism and centralized management promised the Bolsheviks success and stability in the coming years (Fitzpatrick 76).


Many points and facts in the book are worth reading and analysis. One of the main points that are more interesting in the book is that the Russian war had great influences on an evolution of the Soviet state. This point has a great link with the fact that when the revolution was needed to be ruled by the Bolsheviks, they saw themselves controlling in the presence of fiats, which, in those days were much more than a political necessity. In those days, the Bolsheviks were considered a minority and how this minority was successful in bringing about the great revolution is interesting. One reason is that the Bolshevik party relied heavily on the majority of Russians including soldiers, workers, and sailors. This openly showed that the party was very much less concerned…

Sources Used in Document:

Work Cited

Fitzpatrick, Sheila. The Russian Revolution. Edition 3. Oxford University Press, 2008.

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