Retrato do autor

Abraham Ascher

Autor(a) de The Kremlin

15 Works 323 Membros 5 Críticas

About the Author

Abraham Ascher is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He is the author of numerous works, including, most recently, A Community under Siege: The Jews of Breslau under Nazism (Stanford, 2007).

Obras por Abraham Ascher


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento



Revolution Again
Review of the Oneworld Publications paperback (March 6, 2014)

I read this Beginner's Guide as part of my continuing research into the 1905 Revolution in Tsarist Russia which in hindsight has been seen by many as a precursor to the eventual 1917 Revolution. I'm doing this mainly for the events in the Baltic Provinces (Estland, Livland, Kurland) which became the independent countries of Estonia and Latvia after the disintegration of the Tsarist Empire. Lithuania, the 3rd Baltic country, was associated with the then Russian territory of greater Poland before its independence.

See photograph at
Despite its appearance of historical veracity, this photograph is from a 1920 reenactment of the Storming of the Tsar's Winter Palace in Petrograd in 1917. Image sourced from Wikipedia.

This was quite an excellent overview of the 1917 events and even the brief summary of 1905 was useful. Ascher does seem to have some sort of curious bias against the Estonians though. He completely excludes Estonia from his listing of the various nationalist movements which were part of the causes of the overall uprisings against Tsarist and Russian rule:
Finally, in some regions - most notably Finland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Transcaucasia, and Poland - national movements demanded autonomy or complete separation from the empire.

Trivia and Links
One interesting bit of trivia to me was that the origin of the two factions which split the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party into "Bolsheviks" (Russian: Majority) and "Mensheviks" (Russian: Minority) was a vote at a Party Congress in 1903. The Bolsheviks later became known as the Communist Party of Soviet Union.

Despite its rather fearsome association with the later Soviet Union, the word "soviet" is Russian for "council".

Not from this book, but something I came across separately was that the Estonian Bolshevik takeover in Tallinn in October 1917, led by Jaan Anvelt aka the writer Eessaare Aadu, took place on October 23, 1917, 2 days before the Russian Bolshevik takeover in Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg, the original Germanic name was changed due to the war against Germany 1914-1918) on October 25, 1917 (dates are according to the Julian Calendar which was 13 days later in the rest of the world which had adopted the Gregorian Calendar).
… (mais)
alanteder | Jan 24, 2023 |
Attempted Uprising 1904-1907 in Imperial Russia
A review of the Stanford University Press Kindle eBook (June 2, 2004), released simultaneously with the hardcover edition.

A peasant of Saratov summed up for us better than anyone else the net result of the last five years: `Five years ago there was belief and fear [of the Government]; now the belief is gone, and only the fear remains."

I am in the process of assisting in the copy editing of the 3rd Volume of the English translation of Anton Hansen Tammsaare's epic Tõde ja õigus III (1931) (Estonian for "Truth and Justice"). The book centres on the events of the 1905 Revolution in Estonia and the continued life of Indrek Paas (carrying on from Indrek: Volume II of the Truth and Justice Pentalogy (orig 1929), first introduced as a son of the peasant farmer Andres Paas in Vargamäe: Volume I of the Truth and Justice Pentalogy (orig 1926).

I decided to read several other books in relation to this for additional background information as I was only vaguely familiar with the 1905 Revolution previously, unsuccessful as it was. I started with this short history by Abraham Ascher, which is condensed from his earlier 2 Volumes of The Revolution of 1905: Russia in Disarray (1988) and The Revolution of 1905: Authority Restored (1992).

I didn't expect there to be all that much about Estonia in the book and it was really only mentioned briefly, usually in the context of the Baltic Provinces (Estland, Livland, Kurland at the time of Tsarist Russia) in general. Almost all of the mentions are in my Kindle Notes and Highlights. I did note that Reval (the pre-1918 name for the capital city of Tallinn) was misspelt as "Revel" (sic) as was "Tallin" (sic) itself. That sort of carelessness did make me doubt Ascher's thoroughness though.

See image at
Image of the marching crowd led by Father Gapon on Bloody Sunday as it faced the Tsarist soldiers and cossacks. Image sourced from Wikipedia.

Otherwise, this was a good overview of the history of the various strikes and uprisings which began in late 1904. The most famous early incident is probably the Bloody Sunday massacre in Petersburg on January 9, 1905 (Dates in Tsarist Russia were according to the Julian Calendar at the time, most of the rest of the world having adopted the Gregorian Calendar which made it January 22, 1905 elsewhere). Events led to Tsar Nicholas II proclaiming an October Manifesto in late 1905 in an effort to quell the rebellion. Among other reforms, this promised to allow the election of a Duma of people's deputies to work with the previously autocratic government. In practice, the Duma was subverted constantly and disbanded until it was obvious by 1907 that Nicholas II did not intend to share power at all. This of course led to fateful consequences in 1917.

So overall this was a 3 rating. For the slimness of the Baltic content and its misspellings it would be a 2.

A song called "1905" by the Estonian band Sõpruse puiestee (Estonian: Friendship Boulevard) can be heard on YouTube here in Estonian and here in Russian.
A translation of the lyrics in English are below:
Next to the factories where the grass grew
We stood and held each other's hands
Next to the factories -
Where the villagers drove down the hill with carts.

A strike started next to the factories this year
And I couldn't find a job
Next to the factories, you suffocated in the living room
On this curfew night.

Next to the factories where the grass grew
We stood and held each other's hands
Was there any hope at all next to the factories
You answered: "what a beautiful day."

CHORUS (Sung after each verse above)

We weren't standing under the flags
We were not hit by bullets
We dyed the sheets red on the bed
With the blood that came from your lips.
… (mais)
alanteder | 2 outras críticas | Jan 20, 2023 |
Make sure you read the 2017 revised version. It's 30% longer than the first edition. It is exactly what I wanted, a book about the history of Russia. There were a lot of gaps in my knowledge and this book was perfect to fill them. It's too bad it ends in a giant WW3 cliffhanger (joke).
parzivalTheVirtual | 2 outras críticas | Mar 22, 2020 |
This book was what I'd expect from a "short history". Short and sweet. Although I was a bit disappointed in the last chapter that was added for this Revised Edition. Sounded more like a New York Times editorial and less like something a historian would write, but otherwise a decent overwiew in ~300 pages.
MartinEdasi | Aug 23, 2018 |



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