MIA: History: USSR: Historians

Writers on the History of Marxism

Twenty Years in Underground Russia: Memoirs of a Rank-and-File Bolshevik, Cecilia Bobrovskaya
1905-15: Bobrovskaya recollects her radicalization as a young worker in Warsaw, and her years of underground work in Europe and Russia until the time of the first World War. It includes her brushes with Marxists such as Lenin, Krupskaya and Zasulich, her many arrests and imprisonments, events surrounding the 1905 struggle, and the difficulties in printing illegal papers and getting information to the workers.

Ten Days that Shook the World, John Reed
October 16-25,1917: In this classic book on the revolution, U.S. reporter John Reed describes the ten days leading up to the Russian Revolution; ten days that forever changed the path of workers' revolutions and aspirations to follow.

Six Red Months in Russia: An Observer's Account of Russia Before and During the Proletarian Dictatorship, Louise Bryant
1918: American journalist and historian chronicles the Soviet Revolution from the ground up, detailing events that both moved the nation, and those that changed families, the new role of women in society, and the lives of children.

Tales of Sub-Lietenant Ilyin, F.F. Raskolnikov
1918: Seven stories from the Russian civil wars by Red Navy leader Raskolnikov. They include the tale of his capture and imprisonment by the British, and of his subsequent seizure of Enzeli, the last British garrison on the Caspian Sea.

Russia in 1919, Arthur Ransome
Feb-Mar 1919: This book describes the economic, social and political situation he saw during his visit to Russia in February and March of 1919. Underlining the description of these events is the wrenching famine in Russia caused by the Civil War. In this work Ransome interviews several prominent members of the Soviet government as well as ordinary citizens of Soviet Russia.

A Great Beginning, Vladimir Lenin
June 19, 1919: In this account Lenin describes the tasks being made throughout the country to rebuild itself during the wrenching famine and Civil War. Lenin describes the "Communist Subbotniks" who are rebuilding the nation in peace, while he also describes the heroic efforts of the workers in the rear, those workers and peasants living under the domination of the white armies.

Crisis in Russia, Arthur Ransome
Summer 1920: Coming back a year after his last visit, British reporter Arthur Ransome examines in detail the government apparatus of the Soviet system. He emphasizes the background of the World War and the Civil War to follow which caused economic collapse, and on this basis describes the actions of the Soviet institutions. Among the issues he explains are the communist dictatorship, trade unions, communist propaganda, and non-partyism.

How the Soviets Work, H. N. Brailsford
1920,1927: A critical description of the positives and negatives of the grass-roots councils empowered by the revolution. Much of this material is drawn from 1920 and qualified by his visit in 1927.

My Disillusionment in Russia, Emma Goldman
1921-22: American anarchist Emma Goldman travels to Russia for the first time in 30 years. She provides a revealing picture on the rampant oportunism throughout the Soviet government and its steady roots throughout the bureaucracy. Goldman explains life in Soviet Russia from the viewpoint of Russian anarchists who wanted to abolish all government right away, and she charts the undemocratic injustices that occur to them as a result.

The First Time in History, Anna Louise Strong
August 1921 to December, 1923: A bottom-up description of the bitter difficulties and challenges faced by the Soviet people, with descriptions of the famine and disease that swept the land during the Civil War (and which the author succumbed to). She continues on to provide a general overview of Soviet society during the NEP.

Children of Revolution, Anna Louise Strong
1925: Story of the John reed Children's Colony on the Volga, which is as well a story of the whole great structure of Russia.

Year One of the Russian Revolution, Victor Serge
1925-1928: Victor Serge, a former anarchist who supported the revolution, the achievment of Socialism and the gains of the Russian working class, conversely shows signs of the decline and failure of the revolution within the first year, as opposed to the more common views of 1921, 1927, 1936, 1952, etc, being the years when the revolution 'failed'.

Soviet Russia: A living history, William Henry Chamberlin
1929: One of the least biased and most balanced accounts of the Soviet Union one can find, this author traveled throughout the country interviewing Soviet citizens on various questions. This book also stands on the precipice of an epoch changing event: Collectivization. Thus, one can get an exact idea of Soviet society before this massive calamity, and the feelings of the peasantry as the policy was just begining to be implemented.

History of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky
1930: In this tremendous work of three volumes, a decade later Leon Trotsky describes the events leading up to the october revolution. He deals with the Romanov dynasty, the February Revolution which overthrew it, the turmoil and events in the life of the Provisional Government, and finally, the events of the October Revolution.

America's Siberian Adventure (1918-1920), U.S. Genermal William S. Graves
1931: 'Most of the nations having armed forces in Siberia were too much occupied at home to pay very much attention to what went on around Lake Baikal. As a consequence, their military commanders were left largely free to determine questions of political policy and if General Oi or General Knox conceived the notion that, by taking advantage of some new development, they could make a bold stroke in behalf of the Allied cause, and, incidentally, further the commercial and territorial aspirations which their governments ought, in their opinion, to entertain, it is not to be wondered at. Indeed, there is evidence in General Graves' book that even in the United States similar ideas every now and then took root in official minds.'

Protection of Women and Children in Soviet Russia, Alice Withrow Field
1932: "The social status of Soviet women and children in the years 1929 and 1931. The problem involved primarily a thorough research in the means of allowing women and mothers to maintain an economic and social position equivalent to that of men... this book will deal solely with what is being done for women and children in Moscow and its environs, with only an occasional reference to other localities where I can be sure that my statements are true and fact.

Soviet Main Street, Myra Page
1933: 'Anna Krasinova's hoarse voice rushes across the hall. "Is our union paying enough attention to women workers? Why, hasn't the factory committee seen to it that the new nursery is open long before this? We got to have more places to put our kids."....Before us still glows the scarlet runner which had hung over the club stage: "Our Trade Unions are Training Schools in Communism."'

Red Medicine: Socialized Health in Soviet Russia, Sir Arthur Newsholme , K.C.B.,M.D. and John Adams Kingsbury, LL.D.
1933: "The former hospitals for the rich are now devoted primarily to the workers, and their accommodation has been greatly increased. New hospitals for general and special diseases have been built; and the poorest in the land have the advantage, in every department of medicine, of skilled aid in need. The cure places, furthermore, are used by the entire population, and patients from every part of Russia are sent to them. Thus efficiency and universality of medical aid have succeeded a system under which medical care could be secured only by the wealthy, or by the fortunate few among the workers who could gain admission to a good hospital."