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A nice narrative history of the Russian Revolution in 1917. This isn't an academic book. This, by design, is meant to be a nonintimidating book of history for the curious. As we look back on the last 100 years, the Communist Revolution still has much to teach us. Hell, Steve Bannon is a self-described Leninist. We might want to pay CLOSE attention to the trains of the past.
I'm still trying to sort out exactly what I thought of this book. On one level it was well-written and paced (Miéville is a gifted story teller, obviously). He even makes the bureaucratic, committee-heavy, infighting of 1917 seem exciting. But while his approach is similar to others who have approached history or biography from a novelistic approach, it doesn't quite hit the level of literature (not quite Mailer or Capote) I was hoping for. Next to Miéville's own books, it doesn't rise to the top.
China Miéville is well-versed in political philosophy. Dude has a PhD in it (technically in Marxism and International Law). His own leftist politics is felt from the first to the last pages. That is where the book gets a bit messy for me. This is Red October told by a New Weird SF/Fantasy writer who also happens to be strongly involved in International Socialist causes. This is a bit like having Orson Scott Card write about Mormonism or having Ayn Rand write about Adam Smith. Sometimes gifted people who are "true believers" aren't going to be the best/fairest critics of things they love. To be fair, Miéville spends a bit of the last few pages discussing how the 'revolution' went off the rails. But, he does't dwell too much on it. It is uncomfortable to dwell too long on purges, gulags, and Stalin.
He also doesn't have enough room here to properly examine most of the characters that appear. I would have loved to read more about Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, (plus the women), etc. Instead, this novel (constrained by an already large topic) passes over some crazy characters like eyes over an active chess board.
Anyway, I liked it (probably 3.5 tsars). Enjoyed it even. Like Red October, however, it was boring in parts and seemed constrianed by a leftist genius who at times seemed blind to the dangers of his own ideology.
30 of 33 people found this review helpful
How did the narrator detract from the book?
As someone who speaks Russian, I was unable to listen to the reader mispronounce the many, many Russian words in this book. The audiobook will likely be very difficult for anyone who knows how these words, names and places are supposed to be pronounced.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I got this book after reading the author saying it wasn't a dry academic treatment of the subject.
How wrong I was. The majority of the book us just reading out the minutes from meetings.
Very little wider context , motivation or character development. I'm sure it will suit someone who wants to know the specific breakdown of votes to every meeting.
I really like this auther & have heard all his other audio books but this one's not good for audio. U have to just concentrate, shut ur eyes & empty ur mind of all but the audio book. good story, well narrated, but best read it.