[Review of] Matthew Rendle. Defenders of the Motherland: The Tsarist Elite in Revolutionary Russia (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)
This is a review of Rendle's scholarly study of Russian tsarist elites in 1917. The review analyses the main argument and the evidence provided in the book.
Nikolai Charushin's memoirs of his experience as a member of the revolutionary populist movement in Russia are familiar to historians, but A Generation of Revolutionaries provides a broader and more engaging look at the lives and relationships beyond these memoirs. It shows how, after years of incarceration, Charushin and friends thrived in Siberian exile, raising children and contributing to science and culture there. While Charushin's memoirs end with his return to european Russia, this sweeping biography follows this group as they engaged in Russia fin de siecle society, took part in the Russian revolution, and struggled in its aftermath. A Generation of Revolutionaries provides vibrant and deeply personal insights into the turbulent history of Russia from the Great Reforms to the era of Stalinism and beyond. In doing so, it tells the story of a remarkable circle of friends whose lives balanced love, family, and career with exile, imprisonment, and revolution.
To answer this question the author analyses the nature of the revolutionary crisis in Russian traditional agrarian society and possibilities to overcome it by using different legal reform strategies. This bulk of social technologies was elaborated by Imperial administration in the period of Great Reforms and practically used at the beginning of XX-th Century in order to enforce agrarian transformation and to stop the Revolution in Russia. In the situation of unstable social balance, which is typical for all countries under modernization, danger of the revolutionary break was not fatal and could be avoided by skillful reformers. From this point of view the author makes representation of variable parameters of revolutionary conflict, analyses mistakes of liberal reformers and legal possibilities to overcome the revolutionary crisis of 1917.
The volume is organized around the four main thematic axes. The first one is
dedicated to the theoretical approaches on the Russian Revolution and comprises
the articles which reflect on the causes, the nature and the consequences of the
events in Russia in 1917. The second unit is dedicated to the artistic expressions of the Revolution or
works derived from it. In the third unit, a great number of investigations revolves around the impact
and the consequences of the Russian Revolution. Finally, the edited volume closes with a section on the Soviet Revolution and Spain.
The chapter is devoted to the history of Russian Jews in the Period of War I, Revolution, and Civil War (1914-1920).