Offering a fundamental reinterpretation of the emergence of the Soviet state, Peter Holquist situates the Bolshevik Revolution within the continuum of mobilization and violence that began with World War I and extended through Russia's civil war. In so doing, Holquist provides a new genealogy for Bolshevik political practices, one that places them clearly among Russian and European wartime measures. From this perspective, the Russian Revolution was no radical rupture with the past, but rather the fulcrum point in a continent-wide era of crisis and violence that began in 1914.
While Tsarist and Revolutionary governments implemented policies for total mobilization common to other warring powers, they did so in a supercharged and concentrated form. Holquist highlights how the distinctive contours of Russian political life set its experience in these years apart from other wartime societies. In pursuit of revolution, statesmen carried over crisis-created measures into political life and then incorporated them into the postwar political structure. Focusing on three particular policies--state management of food; the employment of official violence for political ends; and state surveillance--Holquist demonstrates the interplay of state policy and local implementation, and its impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. Making War, Forging Revolution casts a new light on Russia's revolution and boldly inserts it into the larger story of the Great War and twentieth-century European history.
An exceptionally rich, complex, and original book. Holquist weaves together a masterful interpretation in which the Russian past, Marxist ideology, the circumstances of prolonged and bloody war, and broader European trends all combined to create the Soviet system. By treating the years 1914 to 1921 as a single, highly troubled period of European and therefore Russian crisis, while simultaneously grounding his meticulous research in the concrete realities of a single pivotal area - the territory of the Don Cossacks--Holquist creates a dense yet fluent narrative, replete with fresh, surprising insights. The book will surely be indispensable reading to students of Russian, Soviet, and modern European history.
This striking volume challenges much of the received wisdom about the transformative nature of Russia's 1917 revolution. By exploring the grander narrative of revolutionary change through the prism of local politics, and by situating Russia's overall experience as part of the broader phenomenon of European upheaval between 1914 and 1921, Holquist demonstrates convincingly how power and politics must be understood as socially instituted practices as well as forms and techniques of rule. Making War, Forging Revolution is imaginative, challenging, and superbly crafted - a model of theorized archival research and a fine accomplishment indeed.
This is a work of exceptional power, clarity, and historical imagination. The Don Cossacks are Holquist's subject, but this regional focus opens a window on the Revolution writ large, revealing the deeper processes spanning the war, the events of February and October, 1917 and, above all, the defining early years of the Soviet project in practice. For the Cossacks, as for all Soviet subjects, identity was an amalgam of history, post-October ideology and Bolshevik policy. No other book unpacks these layers of meaning with such elegance and sophistication.
Meticulously researched and confidently argued, Making War, Forging Revolution represents a highly original contribution to the field of Russian history and to European history in general. It is a book that deserves to be read widely.
The once tidy distinctions between war, revolution, and civil war have become blurred and what was once attributed to the peculiarities of Russia's political culture (for example, Russia's autocratic tradition and/or Bolshevik extremism) is now seen in broader, pan-European terms. Peter Holquist's much anticipated book is an outstanding example of this new scholarship Suffice it to say that students of both Russian and European history will find many of their assumptions challenged in this most thought-provoking book.
- 384 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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