Out on 09 November 2023

Blood on the Snow

Robert Service

09 November 2023
432 pages


In Blood on the Snow, Robert Service returns to the subject that has formed the backbone of his long and distinguished career: the Russian Revolution.

For Service, the great unanswered question is how we reconcile the two vital narratives that underpin what happened in 1917. One places all the blame on the Tsar Nicholas II and on Kerensky’s provisional government. The other is the view from the bottom, the workers who wanted democratic socialism, not the Bolshevik dictatorship espoused by Lenin and his successors.

Service’s vivid and revisionist account spans the period from the outbreak of the First World War to Lenin’s death in 1924, at which point the totalitarian Soviet model of governance was in place. Focusing on twelve key characters, among them the great industrialist Pëtr Ryabushinski, Alexander Shlyapnikov, who founded the Workers’ Opposition to Lenin with Alexandra Kollontai, the radical Muslim turned Bolshevik, Mirza Said Sultan-Galiev, the British diplomat and spy, Robert Bruce Lockhart and, of course, Lenin himself, this is a major work of history from one of our finest historians.