The Bolsheviks Come to Power
The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd
A classic work depicting the early months of the Russian Revolution, featuring a new introduction for the revolution’s centenary. During the months following the collapse of the tsarist regime in war-torn Russia, the Bolshevik Party emerged from obscurity to overthrow the Provisional Government and establish the world’s first communist government. In this absorbing narrative, Alexander Rabinowitch refutes the Soviet myth that the party’s triumph in the October Revolution was inevitable. Exploring the changing situation and aspirations of workers, soldiers, and Baltic fleet sailors in Petrograd, Rabinowitch’s classic account reveals the critical link between the party’s revolutionary tactics and the Petrograd masses.
“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.”
"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, author The Russian Anarchists
“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.’”