A History of Soviet Russia

In This Review

A History of Soviet Russia

By Edward Hallett Carr
Macmillan, 1950
146,508 pp.

By far the most ambitious scholarly undertaking in these 75 years, Carr's project emerged like some literary version of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer. Over the years the quality of the later volumes declined, surpassed by the detailed histories others were generating. However, the original seven volumes, dealing with the period 1917-29 -- in particular, the first three volumes devoted to the Bolshevik Revolution and the six years after -- have stood like a colossus before every self-respecting graduate student in Soviet studies in the English-speaking world. Before and after World War II, Carr was one of the great minds writing on international relations. Volume three on Soviet foreign policy from the November Revolution through 1922 came to be the classic account of the new regime's transition from its rudely frustrated original premises to its imperfect adjustment to the harsh realities of the day. Where others saw in Lenin and his followers manipulators of ideas and instinctive authoritarians, Carr perceived a genuine, often naive ideological conviction and a heavy hand born of necessity.

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