A History for the Centenary of the Russian Revolution (Review of Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 by S. A. Smith)
This review essay focuses on the new monograph by S. A. Smith Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017). As a leading expert in the social history of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Smith provides a comprehensive political, social, and cultural narrative of one of the central events in the global history of the twentieth century. Directed at a general readership, the book offers an excellent overview of existing Russian and Western scholarship, outlines the main course of events, introduces most important actors, and contains thought-provoking conclusions about the revolution. As seen from the title, Smith takes a longish view on the political rupture and includes a comprehensive analysis of social and political life of the Russian Empire, a brief overview of the First Russian Revolution (1905–1907) and the economic and political crisis of the First World War (1914–1918) before discussing the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Russian Civil War, and the period of the New Economic Policy (NEP). The book’s conclusion is a comprehensive essay attempting to comprehend the revolution and its consequences as a whole. As a nuanced social, political, and cultural history, Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 outlines the Revolution of 1917 as a tectonic shift which cannot be reduced to a simple change of the elites in the Russian imperial formation. Smith’s brilliant work will be invaluable for the students of history, both in Russia and abroad, and all those who are interested in global history in general and the Russian Revolution in particular.