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Subject: Book recommendation? rss

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Whatever you do, stay away from Figes. My favorite stuff on the October Revolution is probably 'Voices of Revolution, 1917' translated by Mark Steinberg. 'Ten Days That Shook the World' is a participant account, and Trotsky wrote something on it from the inside (The lessons of October) as well as 'History of the Russian Revolution'. Those are all good places to start, I think.
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Red Victory

http://www.amazon.com/Red-Victory-History-Russian-1918-1921/...
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Don Cooper
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The Bruce Lincoln books, especially, "Red Victory," are especially enlightening. Stay away from Jason Pipes "Russian Revolution," which is poorly written distribe against Communism and less about the Russian Revolution.
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Kevin Bakker
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wolvendancer wrote:
Whatever you do, stay away from Figes. My favorite stuff on the October Revolution is probably 'Voices of Revolution, 1917' translated by Mark Steinberg. 'Ten Days That Shook the World' is a participant account, and Trotsky wrote something on it from the inside (The lessons of October) as well as 'History of the Russian Revolution'. Those are all good places to start, I think.


Any reason to stay away from Figes? I was thinking about picking up his Russian Revolution book....
 
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Dimaradona wrote:
Any reason to stay away from Figes? I was thinking about picking up his Russian Revolution book....
Well, Wolvendancer and Figes have rather different political perspectives on the events.... Myself, I find much of Figes's personal behaviour absolutely reprehensible. On the other hand, as a lecturer, he gave perhaps the best single lecture I attended as an undergraduate. His book on Peasant Russia, Civil War is a classic local study, although his picture of the peasantry as a 'dark', irrational force only interested in local issues is being challenged by newer research by, for example, Aaron Retish and Sarah Badcock. His co-authored work on Interpreting the Russian Revolution is also a very interesting look at the symbology of the revolution.

A People's Tragedy, which I imagine if the one you are referring to, is in every way a very readable book, and there are insights to be found there. However, there is much that can be criticised. Christopher Read has written a very illuminating 'review'(if you can review your own work...) comparing his own book, From Tsar to Soviets to A People's Tragedy. Read shows how both he and Figes wrote their works with the aim of including social history and 'the masses' in their accounts, but points to some major differences: no doubt connected to his view of the peasantry, Figes rejects that violence could be 'rational', presenting the events that led up to October as a 'chaotic orgy of uncontrollable drunken violence', while Read distinguishes between discriminate and indiscriminate violence; Read, also criticises Figes's uses of the perspectives of individual participants in the revolution as insufficiently rigorous, failing to read these sources critically, using the voices of individuals instead as a mouthpiece for his own views.

Personally, I wouldn't at all say 'avoid Figes at all costs'. I would advise reading him with the same caution that you would any other historian, and perhaps balancing him out by looking at Christopher Read's From Tsar to Soviets afterwards (as well as reading the review I link to above).
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David Dockter
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Good list of RCW books here:

http://www.angelfire.com/games3/jacksongamer/RCWbooks.htm
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Lincoln's Red Victory started me off; then White Armies - then White Generals - then a bunch of others (I think I provided a list in the rulebook).
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It can be alarming how people choose to avoid the work it takes to see the gray in issues; far too easy to see everything in terms of black and white.

That's the easy way out, and can be terribly unfair. Why people can't judge Figes work on it's own, separate from his personal conduct is just beyond me. His "A People's Tragedy" is really vital reading for any student of the Russian Civil War - whether they're professional historians or just amateur aficionados like me and most of our wargaming colleagues. I can absolutely see the work's shortcomings as history and even in writing style (it easily could have been edited by 200 pages or so). But is it bad history because Figes conducted himself in less than an honorable way in trying to promote the book? No way.

That said, I completely agree with the others here who have ranked Lincoln's "Red Victory" as the best history to read if you just want the background on your wargaming or the interest the games of the Russian Revolution kindle. A terrific read in every respect, and I know it added greatly to my understanding of this watershed time in history.

And I read it after I read Figes.

Which is probably a good thing. Had I read Lincoln first, I probably never would have gotten past the first 100 pages of Figes. I'm better educated on the Russian Revolutions (plural, as Figes posits)for having read both. But the only one I'll likely reread at some point is Red Victory.
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CubbieBlues wrote:
Why people can't judge Figes work on it's own, separate from his personal conduct is just beyond me. [...] But is it bad history because Figes conducted himself in less than an honorable way in trying to promote the book? No way.
Has anyone actually claimed this? (For the record, his conduct was considerably worse than over-energetically promoting a book).
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Hi All,

One of the best books I found on the subject was The Russian Civil War by Evan Mawdsley. Its readable and comprehensive and gives you a good idea of the shifting battle lines on the different fronts and why the Whites failed tactically as well as strategically. its quite good too on the politics within the White camp.

I love TOC, just playing again at the moment. I think I could say I've never played a game as good....or as complicated...lol...
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