Although much has been written about the political history of the Russian revolution, the human story of what the revolution meant to ordinary people has rarely been told. This book gives voice to the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the Russian people-workers, peasants, soldiers-as expressed in their own words during the vast political, social, and economic upheavals of 1917.
The documents in the volume include letters from individuals to newspapers, institutions, or leaders; collective resolutions and appeals; and even poetry. Selected from the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow, nearly all the texts are published here for the first time. In these writings we hear the voices of ordinary Russians seeking to understand the revolution and make sense of the values, ideals, and discontents of their turbulent times. Not only do they speak of their particular needs and desires-for solutions to the economic crisis or an end to the war, for example-they also reveal how relatively unprivileged Russians thought about such questions as political power, freedom, justice, democracy, social class, nationhood, and civic morality. Mark Steinberg provides introductions to the documents, explaining the language of popular revolution in Russia and setting the writings in the context of the history of the time.
Mark D. Steinberg is associate professor of history and director of the Russian and East European Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is coauthor of The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution, published by Yale University Press.