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'The book is a masterpiece' The Spectator
'A gripping narrative history of one of the most complex episodes in modern Russian history' Sunday Times
'Antony Beevor's Russia is a masterpiece of history' Daily Telegraph
Between 1917 and 1921 a devastating struggle took place in Russia following the collapse of the Tsarist empire. Many regard this savage civil war as the most influential event of the modern era. An incompatible White alliance of moderate socialists and reactionary monarchists stood little chance against Trotsky's Red Army and Lenin's single-minded Communist dictatorship. Terror begat terror, which in turn led to even greater cruelty with man's inhumanity to man, woman and child. The struggle became a world war by proxy as Churchill deployed weaponry and troops from the British empire, while armed forces from the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Poland and Czechoslovakia played rival parts.
Using the most up to date scholarship and archival research, Antony Beevor, author of the acclaimed international bestseller Stalingrad, assembles the complete picture in a gripping narrative that conveys the conflict through the eyes of everyone from the worker on the streets of Petrograd to the cavalry officer on the battlefield and the woman doctor in an improvised hospital.
Czar Nicholas II's abdication in 1917 created a "sudden vacuum of power" that enabled the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, according to this tart history. Beevor (The Battle of Arnhem) takes a critical view of most of the major players, detailing how Aleksandr Kerensky's Provisional Government struggled to keep Russian troops on the Austro-Hungarian front of WWI while dealing with myriad domestic problems, including grain shortages and rising Ukrainian and Finnish nationalism. Meanwhile, revolutionary leaders Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky were rallying the hungry and war-weary masses with bold promises for peace and land reform. Beevor faults the Bolsheviks for turning the humanist ideals of the Russian intelligentsia into a hard-core ideology that they implemented with a "fanatical determination," but also blames reactionary monarchists for waging a disorganized and inhumane civil war that resulted in 12 million deaths and Russia's "utter impoverishment." Detailed breakdowns of the "see-saw" fighting between the Red and White armies are interwoven with sharp assessments of how White leaders Anton Denikin and Pyotr Wrangel bungled support from foreign units, and other strategic matters. Fine-grained yet fluidly written, this sweeping portrait illuminates the chaos and tragedy of Russian civil war. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency.