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Reflections on the Russian Revolution

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The Russian Revolution can be approached from many angles. I shall begin by recounting briefly the strange fates of my grandfather and his siblings during the years of revolution: this is history from “below” and the chaotic and often counter-intuitive story it tells is a useful antidote to over-schematic retrospective surveys by historians of what happened. I will then look at how Western interpretations of the revolution have evolved since I began my career in the mid 1970s. From there I will discuss a number of possible scenarios for how matters might have turned out in the pre-revolutionary period as well as in 1917-21.This will go far to explaining my views on both why the Bolsheviks won and what their victory meant for Russia. The second half of the lecture will largely be devoted to explaining the impact of the external context, including the First World War, on the Revolution’s course, outcome and longer-term consequences. Above all this lecture will be an international historian’s perspective on the Revolution.

This talk is part of the Slavonic Studies series.

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