‘Revolutionary Russia’ explores the Russian revolution not as a single event but as a one hundred year cycle starting with the decline of the Tsar and ending with the fall of the Soviet Union. Though the book is relatively short when considering the broad period it covers, Figes does not seem to compromise the quality and detail in which he tells the story of the revolution. Instead the book looks closely at many features of the Revolution such as the October Revolution, the Civil War and Stalin’s Reign of Terror. The book also closely evaluates the importance of aspects such as the peasant culture in Russia and the glorification of Lenin and how this affected the events of the revolution.
The style in which the book is written makes it clear that it has been extremely well researched with the referencing to individual stories and direct quotes making it particularly insightful as well as making the period of history more accessible for the reader. The book answers many questions about Russian history whilst leaving the reader with many more, due to its thought provoking style. I found the ending of the book particularly interesting with its reflection on how despite how most Russians today acknowledge the atrocities committed under Stalin, most will continue to believe that these were justified. This serves to show just how indoctrinating the Russian regime was under Stalin and how the horrors of his reign did not die with him.
The author also refrains from injecting his personal political outlook into the book and remains mostly impartial, thus allowing the reader to form their own judgement. Overall, Figes has managed to write a book that does not over simplify Russian history yet still remains an enjoyable and manageable read.