ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Bolsheviks Come to Power in Petrograd

Centennial Reflections

How did the Bolsheviks win out in the struggle for power in 1917 Petrograd? The author, among the world’s leading historians on the Bolsheviks, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Russian civil war, revisits the conclusions of two of his major works, Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising (1968) and The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (1976), to grapple with this still thorny and deeply politicised question.

In my essay for this special centennial issue, I want torevisit the main conclusions of my writings on 1917,1 especially as they relate to the key, still thorny and deeply politicised question of how the Bolsheviks won out in the struggle for power in 1917 Petrograd. However, let me start with just a few words about the views of other historians on this issue.

To Soviet historians, of course, the October 1917 revolution was the legitimate expression of the will of the revolutionary Petrograd massesa popular armed uprising in supportof Bolshevik power in Russia and worldwide revolution led bya highly disciplined vanguard party, brilliantly directed byV I Lenin. An elaborate, precisely orchestrated myth was constructed around this interpretation to which Soviet historians were obliged to adhere.2 (Parenthetically, I should addthat during this centennial year, I have participated in several international centennial conferences in Moscow and inSt Petersburg and can report that most serious historians in Russia today have abandoned this myth; significant numbers of them are now conducting valuable research on the revolutionary era.)

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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