In This Review

The Challenge of Revolution: Contemporary Russia In Historical Perspective
The Challenge of Revolution: Contemporary Russia In Historical Perspective
By Vladimir Mau and Irina Starodubrovskaya
Oxford University Press, 2001, 369 pp

Rarely does a book so mirror its subject. The subject is revolution -- namely, what theories of revolution say about Russian events since 1985 and what these events suggest about those theories. But the book itself is an intellectual revolution. It represents a complete break with the way young Soviet intellectuals thought about such topics 20 years ago and a complete reconciliation with the way young Western intellectuals might approach the subject today. This book would enhance the syllabus of any university course on revolutions anywhere. Economic stages play a central role in the tension-filled discontinuities that produce revolution, including Russia's several versions. And classical notions of a revolution's stages serve as the framework for understanding how great revolutions, including Russia's most recent one, unfold. Although the argument is less certain about predicting the outcome, it does a great service by putting the last 15 years of Russian history in grand and sophisticated perspective.