100 books like History of the Russian Revolution

By Leon Trotsky, Max Eastman (translator),

Here are 100 books that History of the Russian Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like History of the Russian Revolution. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution

Jack A. Goldstone Author Of Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on discover the power of revolutions across history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied revolutions for over forty years, trying to understand how people fought for liberty and democracy--but also to understand how things so often went wrong!  I have worked at universities in the US, the UK, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Hong Kong, gaining a global view of how societies change. I have learned that everywhere people have to struggle for their rights.  Whether in ancient Greece or in modern Cambodia, the resulting revolutionary drama unfolds sometimes with wonderful results, but sometimes with tragedy.  No events better display the very best and worst that we can accomplish.  I’ve chosen the books on this list to convey the power of revolutions, their grand successes and tragic failures.

Jack's book list on discover the power of revolutions across history

Jack A. Goldstone Why did Jack love this book?

There are a thousand books on the French Revolution, but most of them focus on the foibles of the aristocracy, or the wild rage of the crowds, or the heroism of Napoleon. Popkin’s new history does a masterful job of covering all the key events and personalities in France in the years leading up to the Revolution and in its unfolding over almost two decades. He is particularly good at placing the Revolution in the context of world history (showing its relation to events in the New World, from the American Revolution to the Revolution in Haiti), and in keeping a focus on the role of the French Revolution in the history of liberty. Indeed, through the eyes of the revolutionaries and their followers in this book, you can watch the dawn of liberty arise in the early years of the Revolution, and then fade under the increasingly militarist and…

By Jeremy D. Popkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A New World Begins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The principles of the French Revolution remain the only possible basis for a just society -- even if, after more than two hundred years, they are more contested than ever before. In A New World Begins, Jeremy D. Popkin offers a riveting account of the revolution that puts the reader in the thick of the debates and the violence that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a new society. We meet Mirabeau, Robespierre, and Danton, in all of their brilliance and vengefulness; we witness the failed escape and execution of Louis XVI; we see women…


Book cover of The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy and Political Theory

Jack A. Goldstone Author Of Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on discover the power of revolutions across history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied revolutions for over forty years, trying to understand how people fought for liberty and democracy--but also to understand how things so often went wrong!  I have worked at universities in the US, the UK, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Hong Kong, gaining a global view of how societies change. I have learned that everywhere people have to struggle for their rights.  Whether in ancient Greece or in modern Cambodia, the resulting revolutionary drama unfolds sometimes with wonderful results, but sometimes with tragedy.  No events better display the very best and worst that we can accomplish.  I’ve chosen the books on this list to convey the power of revolutions, their grand successes and tragic failures.

Jack's book list on discover the power of revolutions across history

Jack A. Goldstone Why did Jack love this book?

All through my school years, I heard that democracy began in Athens, in ancient Greece. But I never understood how that could have happened. To me, constitutions and democracy began with the American and French Revolutions. It turns out that Athenian democracy too began with a revolution! And it was a situation very similar to our own origins: A democratic revolution in a slave-owning society! And at a time when a “national” identity was just being formed out of local and regional ones. This is a book of essays, and you don’t have to read them all. But Josiah Ober is the foremost modern expert on Athenian society and the origins of its democracy, and his essays on that topic in this book are the best accounts we have.

He clearly presents a world that is thousands of years away from us and very strange, but shows how they confronted…

By Josiah Ober,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Athenian Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where did "democracy" come from, and what was its original form and meaning? Here Josiah Ober shows that this "power of the people" crystallized in a revolutionary uprising by the ordinary citizens of Athens in 508-507 B.C. He then examines the consequences of the development of direct democracy for upper-and lower-class citizens, for dissident Athenian intellectuals, and for those who were denied citizenship under the new regime (women, slaves, resident foreigners), as well as for the general development of Greek history. When the citizens suddenly took power into their own hands, they changed the cultural and social landscape of Greece,…


Book cover of The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East

Jack A. Goldstone Author Of Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on discover the power of revolutions across history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied revolutions for over forty years, trying to understand how people fought for liberty and democracy--but also to understand how things so often went wrong!  I have worked at universities in the US, the UK, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Hong Kong, gaining a global view of how societies change. I have learned that everywhere people have to struggle for their rights.  Whether in ancient Greece or in modern Cambodia, the resulting revolutionary drama unfolds sometimes with wonderful results, but sometimes with tragedy.  No events better display the very best and worst that we can accomplish.  I’ve chosen the books on this list to convey the power of revolutions, their grand successes and tragic failures.

Jack's book list on discover the power of revolutions across history

Jack A. Goldstone Why did Jack love this book?

 All the books in this list worry about the relationship between revolutions and liberty and democracy. Is democracy desirable? Does it mean the same thing in different societies? Do revolutions bring democracy closer? Or do they start conflicts that make it more distant? These questions arose again in the Arab Uprisings against dictatorships from Tunisia to Syria that occurred in 2010-2011. Unfortunately, instead of bringing democracy, they brought instability, and in some cases horrifically violent civil wars, that continue to this day. Mark Lynch is angry about this outcome, but he is also one of our finest scholars of Middle East politics, and has written a passionate, detailed account of these uprisings and how they produced anarchy and violence.

By Marc Lynch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Arab Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marc Lynch's last book, The Arab Uprising, described the then ongoing revolutionary change and prospect for the consolidation of democracy in key Arab countries that still seemed possible. But Lynch saw dark signs on the horizon, especially in Syria. That book ended with the hope that the Arab uprisings heralded a fundamental change over the long-term, but with the warning that Arab regimes would not easily give up their power. Instead, Egypt's revolution has given way to a military coup; Libya's produced a failed state; Yemen is the battleground for a proxy war and will be destroyed; Syria has become…


Book cover of Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late 20th Century

Ches Thurber Author Of Between Mao and Gandhi: The Social Roots of Civil Resistance

From my list on nonviolent protest in global politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a researcher and teacher who studies global security. I first thought this meant the study of various forms of violence: wars, terrorism, genocides. And, I still study all of that. But the events of the Arab Spring in particular led me to see the importance of nonviolent protest movements as an important form of global conflict. These movements, often called “civil resistance,”  have proved surprisingly capable of toppling dictators and bringing about democratization. But the news is not all good: they also frequently spark mass repression, civil wars, and even wars between countries. Understanding contemporary global conflict requires understanding how nonviolent movements work.

Ches' book list on nonviolent protest in global politics

Ches Thurber Why did Ches love this book?

Sharon Nepstad analyzes the success and failure of nonviolent resistance movements across a set of global case studies. Her findings highlight two dimensions that probably don’t get as much attention as they deserve.

First, she reveals the importance of civil-military relations in protest movements: the behavior of the military and other state security forces is often decisive to the fate of unarmed uprisings. And this behavior, in turn, is shaped by the recruitment patterns, training, and organizational structure of those forces. The Tianamen Square massacre, for example, only happened after the Chinese government replaced the local patrolling units with military forces from the country's periphery.

Second, Nepstad shows how international support to nonviolent movements can often be counterproductive, as it allows dictators to wave the flag of nationalism against foreign interference. This is an important caution for policymakers and activists thinking about how they can help nonviolent movements around the…

By Sharon Erickson Nepstad,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nonviolent Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1989, Chinese workers and students captured global attention as they occupied Tiananmen Square, demanded political change, and then experienced a tragic crackdown at the hands of the Chinese army. Months later, East German civilians rose up nonviolently, bringing down the Berlin Wall and dismantling their regime. Although both movements used the tactics of civil resistance, their outcomes were different.

In Nonviolent Revolutions, Sharon Erickson Nepstad examines these two movements, along with citizen uprisings in Panama, Chile, Kenya, and the Philippines. Through a comparative approach that includes both successful and failed cases, she analyzes the effects of…


Book cover of Untimely Thoughts: Essays on Revolution, Culture, and the Bolsheviks, 1917-1918

Will Englund Author Of March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution

From my list on by witnesses to Russia’s February Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a longtime Moscow correspondent, having worked there for The Baltimore Sun in the 1990s and for The Washington Post in the 2010s. It was an exciting time to be in Russia, and I couldn’t help noticing parallels between the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. I think American policymakers, in particular, profoundly misunderstood both events. In my newspaper career, I am a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the George Polk Award, an Oversea Press Club award, and other honors. In the fall of 2018, I taught for a semester at Princeton University.

Will's book list on by witnesses to Russia’s February Revolution

Will Englund Why did Will love this book?

Gorky, the author of The Lower Depths, was appalled by czarism and by Russia’s conduct in the First World War, yet this series of essays communicates a profound disillusionment with revolution. Russia, he wrote, was “splitting all along its seams and falling apart like an old barge in a flood.” He lamented “our stupidity, our cruelty, and all that chaos of dark, anarchistic feelings, that chaos which has been cultivated in our souls by the monarchy’s shameless oppression, by its cynical cruelty.” The old regime, he wrote, had successfully suppressed the human spirit in its subjects, and now that it was gone Russia would have to live with the consequences.

By Maxim Gorky, Herman Ermolaev (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Untimely Thoughts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most renowned Soviet writers of the twentieth century, Maxim Gorky was an early supporter of the Bolsheviks who became disillusioned with the turn of events after the 1917 revolution. This brilliant and controversial book is a collection of the critical articles Gorky wrote that describe the Russian national character, condemn the Bolshevik methods of government, and provide a vision of the future.


Book cover of The Fall of Tsarism: Untold Stories of the February 1917 Revolution

Will Englund Author Of March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution

From my list on by witnesses to Russia’s February Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a longtime Moscow correspondent, having worked there for The Baltimore Sun in the 1990s and for The Washington Post in the 2010s. It was an exciting time to be in Russia, and I couldn’t help noticing parallels between the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. I think American policymakers, in particular, profoundly misunderstood both events. In my newspaper career, I am a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the George Polk Award, an Oversea Press Club award, and other honors. In the fall of 2018, I taught for a semester at Princeton University.

Will's book list on by witnesses to Russia’s February Revolution

Will Englund Why did Will love this book?

Amazingly, in the spring of 1917 an Interview Commission was formed in Russia to obtain oral histories of the revolution that led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II. Thirteen key players were interviewed about their role in the sweeping and often violent events that had occurred just two months earlier. You can sense the ambivalence that they were struggling with. Of special note is Alexander Kerensky, who would become the leader of the Provisional Government, describing how he called Nicholas’ brother Michael in the middle of the night, waking him up, and persuading him to renounce the throne.

By Semion Lyandres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fall of Tsarism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Fall of Tsarism contains a series of gripping, plain-spoken testimonies from some of the leading participants of the Russian Revolution of February 1917, including the future revolutionary premier Alexander Kerenskii.

Recorded in the spring of 1917, months before the Bolsheviks seized power, these interviews represent the earliest first-hand testimonies on the overthrow of the Tsarist regime known to historians. Hidden away and presumed lost for the better part of a century, they are now revealed to the world for the first time.


Book cover of The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921

Steven G. Marks Author Of How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism

From my list on modern Russian history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Steven G. Marks is a historian who has written extensively on Russian economic and cultural history, the global impact of Russian ideas, and the history of capitalism. He received his PhD from Harvard University and has spent more than 30 years teaching Russian and world history at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Steven's book list on modern Russian history

Steven G. Marks Why did Steven love this book?

There are many excellent histories of the Russian Revolution that chronicle the main events, but none convey the complexity of experiences in Tsarist Russia during its final years and the Soviet regime in its initial phase as Mark Steinberg’s short but powerful and original work. This book gives us the bird’s-eye view of developments as they unfold, but also places them under the microscope to give us personal stories and experiences from different wakes of life. Using contemporary journalism and diaries, Steinberg recovers the voices of a range of ethnic groups in various regions of the empire—Jews, Ukrainians, and Central Asians--as well as workers, peasants, women, and members of the intelligentsia. As we witness their lives being thrown into upheaval by rapid political and economic transformation in the first years of the 20th century, followed by World War I, the two revolutions of 1917, and civil war, we gain…

By Mark D. Steinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 is a new history of Russia's revolutionary era as a story of experience-of people making sense of history as it unfolded in their own lives and as they took part in making history themselves. The major events, trends, and explanations, reaching from Bloody Sunday in 1905 to the final shots of the civil war in 1921, are viewed through the doubled perspective of the professional historian looking backward and the contemporary
journalist reporting and interpreting history as it happened. The volume then turns toward particular places and people: city streets, peasant villages, the margins of empire…


Book cover of They Fought for the Motherland: Russia's Women Soldiers in World War I and the Revolution

Alison Fell Author Of Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War

From my list on women and the First World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the First World War ever since I read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth at the age of 19. When I lived in France in my twenties I started to read French nurses’ memoirs and diaries, and for the last fifteen years or so have continued to read and write about women’s experiences during and after the war as a university academic researcher, often from a comparative perspective. Men’s stories and memories of the First World War still dominate our understanding of it, but I believe that women’s perspectives give us a vital and often overlooked insight into the war and its consequences.

Alison's book list on women and the First World War

Alison Fell Why did Alison love this book?

Although they are largely forgotten now, the five to six thousand Russian women who enlisted as soldiers were amongst the most photographed and written about women in the First World War, especially the charismatic but tyrannical leader of the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death, Maria Bochkareva. Stoff’s book gives a highly readable and fascinating account of their formation, their military action, their ill-fated involvement in the defence of the Winter Palace when it was stormed by the Bolsheviks in November 1917, and their reception by the rest of the world as the only battalions of women to carry out officially sanctioned combat roles in the war.

Stoff uses their own memoirs alongside other first-hand accounts by American, British, and French diplomats stationed in Russian in the tumultuous year of 1917, and her book provides a balanced and nuanced analysis.

By Laurie S. Stoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Fought for the Motherland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Women have participated in war throughout history, but their experience in Russia during the First World War was truly exceptional. Between the war's beginning and the October Revolution of 1917, approximately 6,000 women answered their country's call. These courageous women became media stars throughout Europe and America, but were brushed aside by Soviet chroniclers and until now have been largely neglected by history. Laurie Stoff draws on deep archival research into previously unplumbed material, including many first-person accounts, to examine the roots, motivations, and legacy of these women. She reveals that Russia was the only nation in World War I…


Book cover of The White Guard

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From my list on life in the Soviet Union.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Paul Clark Why did Paul love this book?

This book goes back to the chaos of the years after the Bolshevik revolution. It is set in Kyiv, which changed hands more than a dozen times during the brutal civil war that followed. The story is very autobiographical and focuses on a middle-class family that supports a pro-German faction in its struggle against Bolsheviks, Russian Whites, and Ukrainian nationalists. This isn’t a panoramic novel in the style of War and Peace but a worm’s-eye view of the chaos that has been unleashed. Brilliant.

By Mikhail Bulgakov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The White Guard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev during the chaotic winter of 1918-19, The White Guard, Bulgakov's first full-length novel, tells the story of a Russian-speaking family trapped in circumstances that threaten to destroy them. As in Tolstoy's War and Peace, the narrative centres on the stark contrast between the cosy domesticity of family life on the one hand, and wide-ranging and destructive historical events on the other.

The result is a disturbing, often shocking story, illuminated, however, by shafts of light that testify to people's resilience, humanity and ability to love in even the most adverse circumstances.


Book cover of Conquered City

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From my list on life in the Soviet Union.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Paul Clark Why did Paul love this book?

Serge was a supporter of the Bolshevik revolution, though he never lost sight of its flaws. 

This extraordinary novel centres on Petrograd at the height of the civil war, as economic collapse, hunger, the threat from the Whites, and the depredations of the Red Terror crush the city’s spirit and ultimately destroy the revolution, even if the Bolshevik regime it spawned survives.

By Victor Serge, Richard Greeman (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Conquered City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1919–1920: St. Petersburg, city of the czars, has fallen to the Revolution. Camped out in the splendid palaces of the former regime, the city’s new masters seek to cement their control, even as the counterrevolutionary White Army regroups. Conquered City, Victor Serge’s most unrelenting narrative, is structured like a detective story, one in which the new political regime tracks down and eliminates its enemies—the spies, speculators, and traitors hidden among the mass of common people. 

Conquered City is about terror: the Red Terror and the White Terror. But mainly about the Red, the Communists who have dared to pick up…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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