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Friday, 29 January 2010

The Russian Provisional Government, 1917

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Ian Thatcher, Brunel University.

Soviet and Western historiography has for long identified Lenin as the most influential figure in explaining how the October Revolution of 1917 took place. This follows a comment in Trotsky’s diary of 1935 that the October Revolution would have occurred without him but only on condition that Lenin was present. This talk outlines how recent scholarship has re-evaluated Lenin’s role: he failed to prevent the February Revolution, the April Theses joined an already existing debate rather than marked a completely new point of view, State and Revolution is no guide to how the Bolshevik government developed, and it is Trotsky not Lenin who organised the October Revolution. It is only be demolishing the Lenin myth that we move closer to understanding the Russian Revolution of 1917.

There is no single book on the Provisional Government. There are good chapters on it in James D. White, The Russian Revolution: A Short History and in Ronald Kowalski’s The Russian Revolution. There is also a good essay by Howard White in A Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, edited by E. Acton et. al.

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