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The Bolsheviks Come to Power
The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd
A comprehensive social history of the upheaval that ushered in Russia's socialist revolution of October 1917.

For generations in the West, Cold War animosity blocked dispassionate accounts of the Russian Revolution. This history authoritatively restores the upheaval's primary social actors—workers, soldiers, and peasants—to their rightful place at the center of the revolutionary process.

  • “Five crucial months in the history of the Russian Revolution are portrayed here with a wealth of new data. The Bolsheviks, lifting themselves up from a seemingly fatal slump in their fortunes in July 1917, moved to their successful bid for power in October.... Quite a number of preconceptions are dispelled in this work by Rabinowitch…. We see the Bolsheviks in action-debating, hesitating, deeply disagreeing on policies, fiercely contesting Lenin's ideas—a far cry from the monolithic avant-garde some writers still believe the Party to have been.”
    —Moshé Lewin

    "Notable... for its soundness of judgment, clarity of expression, and wealth of illuminating detail. Our understanding of what happened in 1917 has been significantly enhanced by Rabinowitch's careful research. The Bolsheviks Come to Power should be read by every person interested in the Russian Revolution.”
    —Paul Avrich

    “Rabinowitch comes to several conclusions: First, the Bolshevik program of land, peace, and bread had widespread support among the masses; he states that 'as a result, in October the goals of the Bolsheviks, as the masses understood them, had strong popular support’.... Second, the Bolshevik program achieved this popularity precisely because of the inability-or lack of desire-of other political parties to respond to these demands. Third, moderate socialist parties' continued support of Kerensky and the Provisional Government undermined their credibility in the eyes of the masses. And fourth, 'In Petrograd in 1917 the Bolshevik Party bore little resemblance to the by-and-large united, authoritarian, conspiratorial organization effectively controlled by Lenin depicted in most existing accounts’...; rather, the party was successful precisely because it was flexible and responsive to the moods of the populace, and Rabinowitch 'would emphasize the party's internally relatively democratic, tolerant, and decentralized structure and method of operation, as well as its essentially open and mass character.’”
    —Slavic Review

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    One of the greatest lessons the Russian state learned on March 8, 1917 was never to underestimate the women of Petrograd. On that fateful morning, International Women’s Day, women workers threw down their tools and walked out of the factories and into the streets. They were met by thousands more women, many of them soldiers’ wives tired of watching their children slowly starve, who were protesting the endless war and the long bread lines that had been a feature of the city since the war began in 1914. This was a powerful economic and political statement—women workers were 47 percent of the workforce in Petrograd at the time—and inspired male workers to walk off the job too, effectively shutting down the city’s economy and putting the government of Tsar Nicholas II on notice that the women and the workers wanted fundamental change.

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