• The Russian Revolution

  • A New History
  • By: Sean McMeekin
  • Narrated by: Pete Larkin
  • Length: 15 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (467 ratings)

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The Russian Revolution

By: Sean McMeekin
Narrated by: Pete Larkin
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Publisher's Summary

From an award-winning scholar comes this definitive, single-volume history that illuminates the tensions and transformations of the Russian Revolution.

In The Russian Revolution, acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin traces the events which 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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Russian Revolution

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    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.

22 people found this 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.

18 people found this 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.

11 people found this helpful

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It was OK at best.

the narrator wasn't terrible, though he always had a hint of smug condescension in his voice. the story was very thorough, just not told in an interesting way. that's just my opinion, as everyone holds different standards to what is and isn't interesting. An example would be how little attention that was given to the murders of the royal family. All and all, it was simply "ok" at best.

6 people found this helpful

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Zarkelo sello

It’s enlightening to read an account of the revolution post Soviet, when so much is more available to researchers. But McMeekin’s account of the shooting of the tsar’s family does not square with the evidence. There were no ladies in waiting in Ekaterinburg. So what else can we believe? As for the audio recording—and this is more to the point. A reader who cannot pronounce Russian words should not be reading a book about Russia. Especially today when Google will pronounce it for you. At the very least he should be coached. Every time Larkin tried to say Tsarskoye selo, I cringed.

6 people found this helpful

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"BLM, ANTIFA BEWARE!"

Loved it! BLM, Antifa and stupid western socialists be careful what you wish for..... It just might slap you in the face...!

5 people found this 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.

5 people found this helpful

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Blatently anti-Communist

While I enjoyed the book but the author is pretty obviously a capitalist. To what extent that effected their reseaech I don't know but at least on an interpersonal level this book gives good details.

4 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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Disingenuous

Once again, an author starts his history book suggesting he wants to remove his subject from its contentious political context and review the history without bias, then writes a book full of bias. He editorializes everything the revolutionaries do with his opinions that he doesn't apply to the provisional government, the tsar, the generals, or anyone else. The crimes of imperialist war are simply stated as fact, but anything the revolutionaries do gets judgement. He ends with the most extraordinary and absurd claim that poverty will always be and anyone who gets the urge to address it is a hopeless utopian who will only bring about destruction as if poverty was some kind of natural state and not simply a product of how societies distribute resources.

The violence and crimes of capitalist empires are just things that happen in this history. The deaths from those are not decisions made by people, just stuff that happens, but revolutionary behavior isn't just stuff that happens in a revolution. Those things have authors who must be blamed. He constantly refers to revolutionary activity as "illegal". Yes, it's true, when you're completely overthrowing a system of government, it's illegal. No kidding. See every revolution that ever happened for the same. He complains about lies from revolutionaries, as if a revolution is something that you just make happen with rainbows and unicorns. Oh no? People lied? That's so bad. This history was a joke.

2 people found this helpful