Encompassing the events that catalysed the Revolution, the events that occurred during the Revolution and the aftermath of the Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A History, by Orlando Figes (See website) shows a complete history of modern Russia which is still under the effects of Communism and the CPSU.
As a student who has never studied revolutions or political history, it gave an eye-watering insight into the country’s history and current state. I was shocked to hear that: “42 per cent of the Russian population would like the return of a ‘leader like Stalin’.” Figes provides the reader with information that might seem to hold minute importance, but when the reader hears about the Gulags and the various events that occurred outside of the capital in foreign countries such as Ukraine and Poland, it gives the reader an in depth view of the power and strength of communism and its leaders. Unlike most history books, he also includes jokes and idioms from the time that relate to the various leaders and the CPSU to show the effects of the communist regime in Russia.
The greatest part of this book is that it identifies that there is a cycle. There will be a period of power held by one political figure, which will soon be followed by a reign of autocracy, to which the people will revolt against. Then a new political regime will ensue and then power will again return to a singular figure followed by a whole new autocratic or dictatorial reign. “The word ‘soviet’ means ‘council’ in Russian (there was nothing particularly Communist about it until after 1917).” Figes shows how the idyllic and romanticised ideal of communism was used for political advancement and the actual idea of communism was lost in the muddy puddles outside of the Kremlin. SL