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Publisher's Summary

In The Russian Revolution, acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin traces the events that ended Romanov rule, ushered the Bolsheviks into power, and introduced communism to the world.

Between 1917 and 1922, Russia underwent a complete and irreversible transformation. Taking advantage of the collapse of the Tsarist regime in the middle of World War I, the Bolsheviks staged a hostile takeover of the Russian Imperial Army, promoting mutinies and mass desertions of men in order to fulfill Lenin's program of turning the "imperialist war" into civil war. By the time the Bolsheviks had snuffed out the last resistance five years later, over 20 million people had died, and the Russian economy had collapsed so completely that communism had to be temporarily abandoned. Still, Bolshevik rule was secure, owing to the new regime's monopoly on force, enabled by illicit arms deals signed with capitalist neighbors such as Germany and Sweden, who sought to benefit - politically and economically - from the revolutionary chaos in Russia.

Drawing on scores of previously untapped files from Russian archives and a range of other repositories in Europe, Turkey, and the United States, McMeekin delivers exciting, groundbreaking research about this turbulent era. The first comprehensive history of these momentous events in two decades, The Russian Revolution combines cutting-edge scholarship and a fast-paced narrative to shed new light on one of the most significant turning points of the 20th century.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Sean McMeekin (P)2017 Hachette Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Book on the Russian Revolution

I am avid student of history who has particular interest in WWI and the Russian Revolution. I have never been a big fan of Sean McMeekin (I have read a few of his books in print and also listened to July 1914- available through Audible). That being said, this book was really interesting and kept my attention. The books begins with a history of Russia in the 19th Century and what life was like in the various parts of the Tsarist empire and then follows through the tumultuous years of the Revolution of 1905, World War I and the fall of the monarchy followed by a discussion of how the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky seized power and eventually won the Civil War. At the beginning of the book, McMeekin takes the listener through a tour of the various parts of the empire by casting the listener into the role of a foreign visitor coming to Russia for the first time. This was a very unique manner for describing what Russian life was like under the Tsars and added greatly to the book. The discussions of the fall of Nicholas II and the Provision Government under Kerensky are also very well depicted and McMeekin sheds light on an alternative theory as to the events that led to the February Revolution. He also does a great job describing how following the July days of 1917 Alexander Kerensky had an opportunity to fortify his rule of Russia only to be driven paranoid the the fear of a right wing putsch. This paranoia led to his turning to the Bolshevik Part for support which eventually led to downfall in October 1917. The biggest issue with the book is that there are so many different actors who played a part in the 1917 revolutions that it can sometimes be overwhelming to a listener who has no background of in this aspect of Russian history. Nevertheless I found this to be a great book and I am glad I listened to it. The narration by Pete Larkin was decent but not great and I believe it would have been better if Derek Perkins had been the narrator.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Audio version challenging with Russian names

I think I might have been better off reading this in print version. The story is compelling and very informative, but I struggled somewhat with keeping track of all the Russian characters names in the audio version.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Good Overview

This book gave a thorough understanding of events leading up to and immediately after the revolution. I recommend it as a quick way to get a solid understanding of this important period of recent history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very informative book

If you could sum up The Russian Revolution in three words, what would they be?

I would describe The Russian Revolution as intriguing, interesting, and eye-opening. I didn't realize how large of a part Trotsky played, and how minor a part Stalin played.

What did you like best about this story?

The author was able to use documents and archives that have only become available since the fall of Communism, so parts of it told a different story than they would have before the 1990s.

Any additional comments?

This was the first book concerning the Russian Revolution I've read. I've seen many documentaries on the time period in Russia, ranging from a series on the Romanov Dynasty to a multi-part series that focused on the revolution itself, with series and individual shows about WW1 and Rasputin thrown in, but McMeekin's book did a great job of tying them all together. I'd highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn about one of the events that helped shape the world over the last 100 years. A few (brief) parts of it got a little dry, but that's to be expected of almost any book that goes beneath the surface of history. There were a few parts where the author presented things as fact that needed some documentation or elaboration, but they weren't critical areas. I'll look for other audiobooks by him.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very accurate account of the 1917 Bolshevik coup

Where does The Russian Revolution rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top. Extremely well researched and written, using Soviet archives first released after the collapse of the USSR. Dispenses with the politically correct analyses of earlier "historical" research and concisely presents the facts, most of them quite depressing and even alarming.

What other book might you compare The Russian Revolution to and why?

Robert Conquest has written several great histories of the decades after the revolution (the Stalinist terror of the 1930s onward, the Soviet-instigated Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s,etc). But McMeekin's book focuses on the early years of the revolution itself.

Have you listened to any of Pete Larkin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

First time. Excellent narration.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Quite a few.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Too opinionated to be a good history

While filled with interesting economic statistics, the political analysis is biased in the extreme. The use of sources is spotty at best (including a dubious claim that Jack Reed was paid a million rubels to write 10 Days That Shooks the World).

I understand it is very hard to have an objective view of something so divisive as the Russian Revolution. However, as this author explicitly claims in the introduction to be doing that, and ends in his epilogue with a boiler plate condemnation not just of communism, but of state economic regulation in general, I would caution people to understand that this history (like most histories to be fair) has a big ol’ axe to grind.

12 of 19 people found this review helpful

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epic. just epic

what a great experience. this was really a great wellw ritten well read book. kudos

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A military history inadequate to describe the topi

The book would have worked better if it was just a military history of Russia's involvement and World War I and/or a history of the military aspects of the Russian Civil War. The author does not give enough attention to the czarist regime and the events leading up to the February revolution. It seems in the text like it just comes out of nowhere on a cold Winter day. To be fair October revolution is a little better described. The author's narrative approach is also very apologetic and uses a lot of American colloquialisms that seem out of place and are confusing.

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A clear, well guided, and expressed history

This book is well written for an easy comprehension of the history, which in some books is hindered by name after name of people and events with no real context of what's happening. The narrator's well spoken, and concise demeanor also help maintain interest and keeps the book interesting from beginning to end. This is a largely unexplored period of history, with so many dynamics and consequences we still feel the effects today across the world.

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Unintended Consequences

Essentially a decent and informative book, it may have been better to read instead of listen due to a very uninspired narration.