Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921
By Antony Beevor
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Dist. by Hachette
RRP $55.00 in hardback
Antony Beevor, the bestselling author of the classic Stalingrad, has turned his considerable talents to the dramatic story of Russia’s revolution and civil war.
Between 1917 and 1921 a devastating struggle took place in Russia following the collapse of the Tsarist empire.
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 Winston 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.
Beevor has assembled the complete picture in a highly readable 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.
His final assessment: ‘For ruthless inhumanity, however, the Bolsheviks were unbeatable.’
A hundred years on, are we asking ourselves if anything has changed? Is the capacity for brutality buried so deep in the Russian psyche it cannot ever be expunged?