This Very Short Introduction provides an analytical narrative of the main events and developments in Soviet Russia between 1917 and 1936. It examines the impact of the revolution on society as a whole – on different classes, ethnic groups, the army, men and women, and youth. Its central concern is to understand how one structure of domination was replaced by another. The book registers the primacy of politics but situates political developments firmly in the context of massive economic, social, and cultural change. Since the fall of Communism, there has been much reflection on the significance of the Russian Revolution. The book rejects the currently influential, liberal interpretation of the revolution in favour of one that sees it as rooted in the contradictions of a backward society which sought modernization and enlightenment and ended in political tyranny.
1. The February Revolution and Provisional Government
2. Social Polarization and the Crisis of Power
3. Politics in the Civil War
4. Society and Economy in the Civil War
5. NEP Economy and Politics
6. NEP Culture and Society
Stephen Smith is a Professor of History at the University of Essex. He works on the social history of the Russian and Chinese revolutions and is the author of Red Petrograd: Revolution in the Factories, 1917-1918 (Cambridge University Press, 1983), and A Road is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-27 (Curzon Press, 2000).