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Monday, February 6, 2017

Review: Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge by Helen Rappaport

Title: Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge 
Author: Helen Rappaport
Format: ARC
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 (Tomorrow!)
Source: Publisher




What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in October, Petrograd (the former St Petersburg) was in turmoil – felt nowhere more keenly than on the fashionable Nevsky Prospekt. There, the foreign visitors who filled hotels, clubs, bars and embassies were acutely aware of the chaos breaking out on their doorsteps and beneath their windows.

Among this disparate group were journalists, diplomats, businessmen, bankers, governesses, volunteer nurses and expatriate socialites. Many kept diaries and wrote letters home: from an English nurse who had already survived the sinking of the Titanic; to the black valet of the US Ambassador, far from his native Deep South; to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had come to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women’s Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareva.

Helen Rappaport draws upon this rich trove of material, much of it previously unpublished, to carry us right up to the action – to see, feel and hear the Revolution as it happened to an assortment of individuals who suddenly felt themselves trapped in a "red madhouse.""


My Two Cents:

In 1917, 100 years ago this year, revolution broke out across Russia. In "Caught in the Revolution," Helen Rappaport looks at the effects of the revolution on one city: Petrograd (a.k.a. St. Petersburg). It was amazing to see how quickly things changed as well as to have a reminder of the course of events that took Russia from the fall of the Tsar to the new government.

Sure, there are a lot of history books that cover Russia during this time period. What makes this book really a great history is the first hand narratives that Rappaport draws from to write the book. By drawing on letters, diaries, and a variety of other narratives, Rappaport is able to not only pinpoint exactly where people were when they witnessed this shift in history but what they were witnessing and what they were feeling. It really made the history feel more personal while still being incredibly informative. You get such a good sense of place and can really picture what is happening throughout the book.

I love history books even if it just a run down of events but having the first hand narratives make the history so much more real. This book would be great for those that don't have a familiarity with the history of this revolution as well as those that already have a familiarity with the Russian Revolution but are looking for a different and more intimate look at the events that changed the world.  




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