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Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888-1938

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This classic biography carefully traces Bukharin's rise to and fall from power, focusing particularly on the development of his theories and programmatic ideas during the critical period between Lenin's death in 1924 and the ascendancy of Stalin in 1929.


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This classic biography carefully traces Bukharin's rise to and fall from power, focusing particularly on the development of his theories and programmatic ideas during the critical period between Lenin's death in 1924 and the ascendancy of Stalin in 1929.

30 review for Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888-1938

  1. 4 out of 5

    Neal

    The bulk of this book is a history of the USSR's New Economic Policy from its initiation in 1921 until its abrupt termination at the end of 1929. The NEP was a policy formulated largely by Lenin and Bukharin which tried to lead the USSR through a market-based transition to socialism. With this history, told from Bukharin's perspective, Stephen Cohen makes two very important arguments. First, he shows how Lenin, Bukharin, and the vast majority of the Bolsheviks planned out a peaceful transition t The bulk of this book is a history of the USSR's New Economic Policy from its initiation in 1921 until its abrupt termination at the end of 1929. The NEP was a policy formulated largely by Lenin and Bukharin which tried to lead the USSR through a market-based transition to socialism. With this history, told from Bukharin's perspective, Stephen Cohen makes two very important arguments. First, he shows how Lenin, Bukharin, and the vast majority of the Bolsheviks planned out a peaceful transition to socialism AFTER the construction of a "workers state" in 1918-1921 (of course, this was not a real workers state because the civil war destroyed the Russian working class and its democratic institutions, the Soviets). Lenin and Bukharin's perspective was the strategy of the New Economic Policy, a period of rising living standards for workers and peasants, the slow growth of the "socialist sector" (socialized industry, worker cooperatives, and peasant marketing cooperatives), and a relatively pluralistic and free Russian society - with the major exception of the state, which was obviously ruled by one party. Second, Cohen shows how the New Economic Policy of Lenin and Bukharin contrasted sharply with the hyper-industrialization/collectivization model that Stalin suddenly embraced in 1930 (prior to this point, Stalin had also been a supporter of the NEP). Cohen argues that Stalin's sole original contribution to Bolshevik thought was his "intensification thesis," that claimed that as the USSR approached socialism, class tensions would build and require force to defeat all of socialism's "enemies" - which included millions of poor peasants and "party traitors". This theory, combined with the insane industrialization plan that Stalin adopted, was a recipe for civil war, which is what actually broke out in the countryside in 1930-34, when Stalin's apparatus killed approximately 10 million peasants in the process of forcing all farmers onto collective farms. Stalin's social revolution "from above" between 1930 and 1934 was followed by a political revolution between 1936 and 1939, when the mass purges of the Communist Party killed another 3 million and essentially destroyed the party as a real factor in political life until after Stalin's death. The significance of Cohen's work is that it shows that there was a real alternative to Stalin's rule: the New Economic Policy of Lenin and Bukharin. Furthermore, although Stalin slowly accumulated power throughout the 20s, the new civil war and terror that began in December 1929 was qualitatively different from the relatively pluralistic society that came before. Trotsky and the left opposition, usually thought to be the true alternative to Stalin, occupy a position somewhere between the course championed by Bukharin and the course Stalin took. This is not a hagiography of Bukharin however. Cohen recognizes that the role Bukharin played in the intra-party debates in the 20s was destructive, and that he, like Trotsky and others, repeatedly missed warning signs about, and opportunities to defeat, Stalin. Still, an excellent book worth reading if you're interested in the development of the USSR.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    Of course, this books deserves the praise that critics have heaped upon it since its publication in 1971. I can think of no other history of Soviet politics up to Bukharin's execution in 1938 that even approaches it in completeness and clarity. The outlines of that history are immediately evident, and one can consult other works for all the details. I do have one criticism of the book, however. In his introduction Cohen writes: "The real question is whether either of these party leaders [Trotsky Of course, this books deserves the praise that critics have heaped upon it since its publication in 1971. I can think of no other history of Soviet politics up to Bukharin's execution in 1938 that even approaches it in completeness and clarity. The outlines of that history are immediately evident, and one can consult other works for all the details. I do have one criticism of the book, however. In his introduction Cohen writes: "The real question is whether either of these party leaders [Trotsky and Bukharin] represented a viable programmatic alternative to Stalinism in the 1920s." First of all, the words "the real question" raises a red flag for me whenever I encounter them. Historians consider questions in their hundreds and thousands - all of them "real" in the sense that they exist in the minds of practicing historians. I suspect that Cohen meant: "the only question of interest to me," and like the arrogant academic that he is, he considers all other questions trivial - of no interest to "real" historians. Secondly, I don't understand why he formulated the "real" question as he did. Bukharin and Trotsky covered hundreds and thousands of pages with words, words, words. In the sense that those words constituted "programs," which Cohen does not define, they did formulate alternative programs. Moreover, Bukharin's ideas WERE public policy and the foundation of funded government programs until about 1927 or so, when Stalin decided differently, when he began to liquidate the old Bolshevik party and to complete his highly successful project (of ten years) to gain personal control of the party apparatus and internal security/police organization. I assume Cohen means that the Central Committee COULD have CONTINUED to adopt Bukharin's ideas after 1927-9 as party/governmental policy and subsequently implemented in approved and funded "programs." Perhaps. [So could a Romanov restoration, I suppose - however remote the possibility.] But not on any planet he shared with Stalin, once Stalin decided differently. Throughout it all Bukharin remained intent on preserving his independence, which meant he remained largely uninvolved in the nasty struggles for power, the tedium of creating and establishing himself in a position to exercise "real" control [rather than to rely on persuasion] within the communist party and in the Soviet state so that he might actually implement his "program.". He remained a "maverick," a "loner." This is not to say that he didn't have his followers and admirers. He did - by the millions. But neither he nor Trotsky seemed to recognize that other persons pursued other goals, quite indifferent and entirely unmoved by their brilliance. They seemed not to understand, if their behavior indicates understanding, that the force of their ideas alone would be insufficiently powerful to compel anyone to act as their ideas suggested. Fools - the both of them. So whatever can Cohen mean when he writes of "programmatic alternatives?" Between 1927 and 1938 in seminar rooms or at a podium perhaps, but certainly not in the Kremlin - once Stalin had firm control of the party apparatus and internal security/police organizations. And Bukharin never seemed to recognize that he might have acted otherwise. But perhaps he couldn't. Now that suggests really interesting questions - How could and why did Bukharin ignore the politics of power in the 1920s? Lastly, Cohen states the "real question" in his introduction and then seems to forget that he ever posed it until he raises it again in his epilogue - in a "thus we see" manner. I had been anticipating that he would discuss the "Bukharin alternative" every chapter or so when he offered his analyses of milestone events, but he didn't - just straight, brilliantly insightful commentary on political issues and the temporary alignment of political factions, wonderfully fluid. Perhaps Cohen had spent so much time in Bukharin's company - which would have been entirely delightful - that he also came to believe that he need not explain himself, that the answer to his question is so patently obvious to the attentive reader that he needn't formulate it. But these are small points, I suppose. It remains an entirely indispensable book for the interested. And when I read it again, I'll just skip over the introduction and the epilogue not that I've vented.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

    Cohen's acclaimed biography of the man Lenin named "the favorite of the Party" and Stalin shot as a traitor is a must for all interested in Soviet history and the triumph of Stalinism. An excellent example of academic writing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    Not realizing it, I read this book twice (in 2011 and 2012), and even wrote two reviews. The five stars was my first review. I would have given it four the second time around. Review 1) Every era inevitably reexamines and rewrites history. That is especially true with accounts of the Soviet Union, where there are huge differences depending on whether a book was written before or after the Iron Curtain's collapse. Today, most histories stress the continuity between Lenin and Stalin, and the bloodi Not realizing it, I read this book twice (in 2011 and 2012), and even wrote two reviews. The five stars was my first review. I would have given it four the second time around. Review 1) Every era inevitably reexamines and rewrites history. That is especially true with accounts of the Soviet Union, where there are huge differences depending on whether a book was written before or after the Iron Curtain's collapse. Today, most histories stress the continuity between Lenin and Stalin, and the bloodiness and authoritarianism of the Russian Revolution from its inception. This biography -- of the Bolshevik theorist and "rightist" Nikolai Bukharin -- is a good example of how Soviet history was viewed before hindsight and access to Russian archives. Published in 1971, it casts Stalinism as a twisted and horrible aberration to the hopeful aspirations of the revolution. As such, the book makes for interesting reading, though I have trouble accepting Bukharin as a tragic figure, given his many alliances with Stalin before he suffered the same fate as those he'd helped persecute. An emblematic passage of author Stephen Cohen's views, about the purges of the late-1930s: "Stalin's blood purge constituted a revolution 'as complete as, though more disguised than, any previous changes in Russia.' The Bolshevik Party was destroyed and a new party with a different membership and ethos created. Only 3 percent of the delegates to its last pre-purge congress in 1934 reappeared at the next congress in 1939. Seventy percent of the party's full membership in 1939 had joined since 1929, that is, during the Stalin years; only 3 percent had been members since before 1917. By the late thirties, the Soviet system had ceased to be a party dictatorship or government in any meaningful sense. Behind a facade of institutional continuity and official fictions, Stalin had become an autocrat, reducing the party to one of his several instruments of personal dictatorship." Review 2) Nikolai Bukharin was one of the figures of hope for those who looked at the Soviet Union and wondered if it could have been something better, if not for the monstrosities of Stalin. This book offers a persuasive account of 1920s NEP Russia, which comes across as sort of another Weimer Republic -- a brief respite of cultural promise, sandwiched between times of horror. Author Stephen Cohen makes the case for Bukharin's legacy, though I've always been more convinced by accounts that put greater stress on his role as an intriguer who helped Stalin eliminate mutual rivals until he shared the same fate. Here's part of Cohen's analysis on why Bukharin, though he was popular and powerful, failed to resist Stalin's efforts to purge him: "By 1929, Bukharin had come to share most of Trotsky's criticisms of the party's internal regime. Unlike Trotsky, however, having sanctioned its development, he was its prisoner. His dissent and accompanying pleas for the toleration of critical opinion in 1928-9 were regularly rebuffed with quotations from his own, earlier sermons against the Left's 'factionalism,' and his attacks on Stalin's 'secretarial regime' with derisive jeers: 'Where did you copy that from? ... From Trotsky!' Still, despite his complicity in imposing the proscriptive norms, Bukharin was tempted to appeal to the whole party. He agonized over his dilemma: 'Sometimes at night I think, have we the right to remain silent? Is this not a lack of courage? ... Is our 'fuss' anything by masturbation?' Finally, believing that the party hierarchy he would to win over would 'slaughter' any leader who carried the struggle beyond its councils, he conformed to 'party unity and party discipline,' to the narrow, intolerant politics he had helped create. He shunned overt 'factionalism,' and so was reduced to ineffectual 'backstairs intrigues' (like his Kamenev visit) easily exploited by his enemies. His position was politically incongruous: driven by outraged contempt for Stalin and his policies, he remained throughout a restrained, reluctant oppositionist. "Apart from public appeals too Aesopian to be effective, Bukharin , Rykov, and Tomskii therefore colluded with Stalin in confining their fateful conflict to a small private arena, there to be 'strangled behind the back of the party.' And it is in this context that Stalin's decisive victory must be explained."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    One of the many unhappy legacies of the Cold War is how Americans came to view the intent and possibilities of the Russian Revolution of 1917 through a lens distorted by our experience with Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, an unfortunate development as Stalin’s single-person dictatorship was a severe deviation from the original vision of most within the early Bolshevik Party. Stalin’s rise to power and the increasing paranoia responsible for his murderous elimination of all he deemed untrustworthy One of the many unhappy legacies of the Cold War is how Americans came to view the intent and possibilities of the Russian Revolution of 1917 through a lens distorted by our experience with Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, an unfortunate development as Stalin’s single-person dictatorship was a severe deviation from the original vision of most within the early Bolshevik Party. Stalin’s rise to power and the increasing paranoia responsible for his murderous elimination of all he deemed untrustworthy were neither inevitable nor in any way the fulfilment of Lenin’s hopes. Even as late as the early 30s, when Stalin was stealthily nearing absolute authority, there remained a remarkable range of opinion within the Bolshevik party. Stephen Cohen’s masterful account of these early years, in which he focuses on Nicolai Bukharin from his earliest years in the Bolshevik party through the late 1930s — when he, too, became yet another victim of Stalin’s plotting — helps us see how the Soviet Union might have turned out very differently had, for instance, Lenin had not died so soon or, alternatively, had his colleagues entrusted someone other than Stalin to the critical position of General Secretary through which he was able to promote his favorites within the party apparatus. Especially while Lenin lived there was an ongoing, wide-ranging, and vigorously conducted debate about how to achieve the primary goal of vastly enhancing industrial production while, at the same time, moving to create a more efficient and productive agriculture in a country that was overwhelmingly rural and where most farm plots were quite small and lacked modern machinery. Cohen shows how, in the early, formative period from the Revolution through the 1920s, Bukharin, Lenin, and others navigated through difficult times once they had achieved sole power in the autumn of 1917. Their challenge was to extricate Russia from the bloody First World War and, after they had successfully managed this, they immediately found themselves in a civil war in which outside powers (including the United States) sided with their opponents. It took them five long years (until the autumn of 1922) to finally cement their control and then they were immediately faced with the severe economic and agricultural consequences of eight years of warfare. Little wonder, then, that during this period their methods varied widely as they desperately moved to address quickly one kind of problem after another. Throughout, there was no “road map” in Marxian theory by which to help them navigate these serious challenges, in good part because Marx — like most of the communist and socialist leaders — believed that the anticipated proletarian revolution would occur first in a highly industrialized country like Germany. Instead, in one of those ironies so frequent in history, it was in Russia – an overwhelmingly rural country with relatively primitive industrial capacity – that the revolution unexpectedly occurred when the Bolsheviks seized power from the faltering Provisional Government in October of 1917. While periods of terror and brutality did occur, much of this was the inevitable consequence of the civil war that soon followed in which horrific violence was employed on all sides. While Trotsky soon came to believe that the ongoing application of terror and force were an inevitable component of bringing about the needed transformation of Russia — much like the views of the anarchists in Russia in the late 19th century before him — Bukharin and Lenin were averse to believing these were necessary in a post-war environment. In marked contrast, they struggled instead to find the kind of economic policy that would allow both increased industrialization and a more productive agriculture to be accomplished without class warfare. During this period, not only did Bukharin travel widely, lecturing frequently along the way, he also was editor of the influential newspaper Izvestia (meaning to inform or notify) that communicated the official views of the government. Even Stalin acknowledged that Bukharin was one of the most able speakers and writers and unequalled as a Marxist theoretician. Cohen, in noting Bukharin’s pleasing, even magnetic, personality as central to his prominence in the Party, writes, “Those who encountered him over the years testify that the gentle, open, good-humored Bukharin, who in his traditional Russian blouse, leather jacket, and high boots conveyed the aura of Bohemia-come-to-power, was the most likable of the Bolshevik oligarchs…. There was about him none of Trotsky’s intimidating hauteur, Zinoviev’s labored pomposity, or the intrigue and mistrust surrounding Stalin. He was ‘lovingly soft in his relations with comrades,’ and ‘beloved.’ Exuding an ‘impervious geniality,’ he brought infectious gaiety to informal gatherings and, in his best moments, an ameliorating charm to politics.” While Cohen cites extensively from Bukharin’s writings that trace both how his economic theory and policy evolved and adapted to changing circumstances, he also quotes passages that testify to how closely his thoughts paralleled the liberal humanistic tradition of his Social Democratic predecessors in Russia as well as of contemporary socialists in both Russia and Europe. s While his purpose – the eventual triumph of communism in Russia without resorting to violence as a tool of the state – remained fixed, his thoughts and proposed policies were always evolving. While some of his colleagues saw Hitler’s form of totalitarianism as a “logical” development of industrial and political concentration in modern states, Bukharin did not. Rather, Cohen observes, he recognized not only the danger it posed to all civilization but also recognized similar developments of method and ideology growing under Stalin’s guidance. He expressed his concerns in language that his readers could also understand as applying to Russia. Under Hitler, he wrote, “‘the idea of violence, of coercion as a permanent method of exercising power over society, over individuals, over man’s personality,’ in ‘terroristic dictatorships’ based on ‘permanent coercion’ and ‘a real gulf between…a small group of ruling exploiters and the exploited masses.’ Such a regime, ‘with all its organizational efforts, blind discipline, cult of Jesuitical obedience, and suppression of intellectual functions, creates a dehumanized populace.’” “Fascism…has established an omnipotent ‘total state, which dehumanizes everything except the leaders and ‘supreme leaders.’ The dehumanization of the masses here is in direct proportion to the glorification of the ‘Leader.’ …The great majority of people are thereby transformed into simple functionaries bound by a discipline imposed in all areas of life…. Three ethical norms dominate everything: devotion to the ‘nation’ or to the ‘state,’ ‘loyalty to the Leader,’ and the ‘spirit of the barracks.’” One of the reasons Stalin was able to succeed in his steady accretion of power was the determination, shared by Bolsheviks of all persuasions, to keep intra-party differences secret from the general public. While there were vigorous internal debates over the “rightness” of Stalin’s increasingly obvious methods throughout the 1930s, none of these appeared in newspapers or magazines that were available to the general public. Because the disputing leaders only showed unity and pretended affection towards each other in public, the regular citizen — who, in any case, was struggling to survive the continuing harsh existence consequent to the pursuit of rapid industrialization — had no real indication of the internal struggles. This fact also meant that Stalin’s opponents never had the ability to rally their popular supporters who, especially before the middle 1930s, were quite numerous and in possession of many local and regional positions of power. By the time they might have gone public, the reins of power – including the control of vital mass media – were in Stalin’s hands. Perhaps Bukharin had enough public status that, had he attempted to take his concerns public at the end of the 1920s or, at the latest, in the early 1930s, this might have resulted in Stalin being thwarted. If that had happened, how different might have been the subsequent development of the Soviet Union? A tantalizing question, but one to which we will never know the answer. I recommend this fine work both to all who are interested in those crucial early years of the Soviet Union as well as to those who are convinced that the “outcome of any communist state” is predictable, narrow and ugly. All imagined futures are far richer than we are likely to suppose. And nothing is inevitable in human events except, perhaps, that we will repeatedly learn little from them that will help us avoid the errors of the past.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    This is a stunning book - remarkable research went into its preparation. The writing is excellent. The subject matter - and subject-of-the-biography - are fascinating and meaningful about how Stalinism developed in opposition to Bukharin's entirely different intentions and theory about how to build communism. I never encountered the name or story of Nikolai Bukharin in my history studies in high school or college. I am glad I have now, and I will read more of this man and the story of the develo This is a stunning book - remarkable research went into its preparation. The writing is excellent. The subject matter - and subject-of-the-biography - are fascinating and meaningful about how Stalinism developed in opposition to Bukharin's entirely different intentions and theory about how to build communism. I never encountered the name or story of Nikolai Bukharin in my history studies in high school or college. I am glad I have now, and I will read more of this man and the story of the development of the USSR that terrified and murdered its people and ravaged its culture & economy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ming

    The Author was my teacher on a course on Russia in college. An interesting look at the power stuggle between party members with the power vacuum left by lenin

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Richman

    Masterful. One of the most satisfying explanations of the Bolshevik 20's and Stalin's consolidation of power. How is it, three decades after the Soviet archives were opened up, that no one has dared to write an updated biography of the main Soviet alternative to Stalinism?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Apostolos

    This is a great book. It offers the reader a very good understanding of the inner workings, ideological struggles and political struggles within the then multifaceted bolshevik party. It does get repetitive at times but it remains very interesting and even an easy read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hazzem

    the first 3 chapters are so informative and clears alot of misconceptions about the bolshevik party and the russian revolution

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    My review is biased because my political hero is Trotsky. This is a useful biography of a key figure in the rise and formation of Stalinism, which distorted Marxism/Lenninism to produce the murderous centralist regime of Stalin. But it should be read along with wider accounts of the revolution and the leading characters. What it doesn't do in any way shape or form is explain Bukharin's actions when it came to Lenin's will, the routing of Trostky and his expulsion from the USSR or his part in the My review is biased because my political hero is Trotsky. This is a useful biography of a key figure in the rise and formation of Stalinism, which distorted Marxism/Lenninism to produce the murderous centralist regime of Stalin. But it should be read along with wider accounts of the revolution and the leading characters. What it doesn't do in any way shape or form is explain Bukharin's actions when it came to Lenin's will, the routing of Trostky and his expulsion from the USSR or his part in the re-writing of the Russian revolution to enhance the invisible Stalin to a central figure and as ultimately Lenin's heir. It seems this period after Lenin's death is regarded only as a political and ideological struggle and ignores Bukharin's motives in playing Stalin's game which he acknowledges was based on inexhaustible jealousy of anyone more talented, intellectual, charismatic or charming. It appears that Bukharin accepts the revolution as an accomplished fact but denies entirely the danger of rewriting and distorting history and thus Bukharin along with Zinoviev and Kamenev become equally responsible for the rise of Stalin and to their own deaths. What is ultimately unanswered was Bukharin a dupe, willing or otherwise or cynically hoping to outmanouevre Stalin; what was his motive in colluding with a man who was clearly a dangerous psychopath that Lenin wanted expelled from the party?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    The Gospel According to Cohen After forty years, Stephen F. Cohen’s Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: a Political Biography remains a supreme document of Soviet history and a triumphant act of revisionist history. Cohen writes a linear history of the life of Nikolai Bukharin, the Bolshevik Party’s most brilliant theorist, while supplementing the narrative with Bukharin’s intellectual engagements with the Soviet Union as it develops.Cohen divides his study in ten chapters, roughly beginning The Gospel According to Cohen After forty years, Stephen F. Cohen’s Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: a Political Biography remains a supreme document of Soviet history and a triumphant act of revisionist history. Cohen writes a linear history of the life of Nikolai Bukharin, the Bolshevik Party’s most brilliant theorist, while supplementing the narrative with Bukharin’s intellectual engagements with the Soviet Union as it develops.Cohen divides his study in ten chapters, roughly beginning with Bukharin’s upbringing as a young radical before moving to his radical leftism during the Civil War, his move to theorizing abstract economic plans before and during NEP, his injudicious alignment with Stalin, his inevitable political downfall, and finally his powerful testament at his fatal trial. A compelling narrative, Cohen’s Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution reads like Bukharin’s mind: a subterfuge of ideas, interpretations, and honored pursuits. Cohen draws from a rich and diverse stock of sources. He offers comprehensive interpretations of Bukharin’s books and Pravda periodicals, official proceedings, contemporary works, scholarly accounts, and unpublished journals. Creating such an engaging, rich and linear narrative demands great praise considering the relative paucity of historical information Cohen even had access to. And yet Cohen blends it seamlessly into his text, creating the inspiring character of Nikolai Bukharin almost as the sum of his influences alone – the devotion of Lenin, the economic insight of Hilferding, the sensibility of Goethe, and the acumen of Weber. Even though Cohen’s work is over forty years old, there are no gaps in information that plague his arguments. Rare is it that a writer could have better a grasp of his or her sources than Cohen. Cohen's a colorful writer and some might find Cohen’s theses abstract or partisan. In the preface, Cohen admits that his goals were twofold: first, he sought to challenge Soviet history’s erasure of Bukharin as a preeminent figure in the Communist Party; second, which he explains in his epilogue, Cohen proposes that perhaps through Bukharin “the true prefiguration of the Communist future – the alternative to Stalinism after Stalin.” So, Cohen serves that ever controversial role of historian-as-ideologue. He connects the Great Terror with the Nazi Holocaust merely by calling it "holocaust;" he calls Stalin a thief and a murderer; he makes illusions to Caesar and Brutus when discussing party members forming factions. Ultimately, he wants us to infer that Nikolai Bukharin is the Christ-like figure of Russian Marxism. It's a bold historical narrative that Cohen's forging here, and many might find it too pointed. But I say it's all the better for its edges. (Pro Tip: Pious Christian Goodreaders, Orthodox Reaganites, and generally those who make hunting for blasphemers an intramural sport on the internet should stay away from this book. I don't think you'll dig it) Stephen Cohen’s Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: a Political Biography I888-I938 deserves its role as one of the essential texts of Soviet History. While offering in-depth analyses of the problems that defined the early days of the Soviet Union, Cohen’s masterpiece creates a heroic character, whose brilliance and humanity are presented with such mastery that Cohen’s quest for a “true” Bolshevism feels answered at Bukharin’s execution, a sobering truth not merely believed but felt. It's the quickest work of scholarship you'll ever read. It's about a heroic figure, who with erudition and spirit, sought to avenge his fate in courtrooms of Stalinist Hell. This Stalinist Hell engulfs Bukharin, but Cohen's book does more than simply relay this grim truth. No, it's revelation comes not after death but after resurrection......The Great Terror, an abbatoir of ideology, truth, time, and humanity, cannot erase entirely the humanity of Bukharin because Bukharin addresses history itself in his final testimonies, his dignity and purity as a thinker. It is the role of a great historian to communicate this message of the fractured past and Stephen Cohen is a great historian. This is a Marxist Gospel of the highest order. READ IT NOW

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    C:4 U:3 P:4 A:3 This will be pretty dry if you don't enjoy the vagaries of early Bolshevik theoretics. And knowledge of the contemporary political situation is assumed. That said, Cohen makes a strong case for Bukharin's rehabilitation as a major object of historical interest. And by taking seriously Bukharin's sociological contributions to Marxist-leninism, he shed light on how, exactly, top bolsheviks rationalized some of the more glaring contradictions their revolutionary project produced. Buk C:4 U:3 P:4 A:3 This will be pretty dry if you don't enjoy the vagaries of early Bolshevik theoretics. And knowledge of the contemporary political situation is assumed. That said, Cohen makes a strong case for Bukharin's rehabilitation as a major object of historical interest. And by taking seriously Bukharin's sociological contributions to Marxist-leninism, he shed light on how, exactly, top bolsheviks rationalized some of the more glaring contradictions their revolutionary project produced. Bukharin's take on State Capitalism and Imperialism was especially interesting, in light of the later Stalinist orthodoxy (and fictive strategic gusset) of the impossibility of cooperation between imperialist states. Also very interesting is his notion of technology as "artificial system of organs" constituting "a precise material indicator of the relation between the society and nature. identifying social technology with productive forces and make the internal structure a function of the external equilibrium."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sigfried

    If I was Bolshevik, I would want to be this pimp. Party theorist, charismatic, womanizer, economic guru, and creator of the NEP, and the last true Bolshevik. Also, he lasted longer than most of the original members of the revolution so that helps. Damn Stalin and his Show Trials. I highly recommend this book for those wanting to know more about being a pimp in a Russian revolution.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Derek Shouba

    A wonderful biography but perhaps Cohen asks too much of his reader. Cohen wants us to believe that a reasonable Bukharin could have created a humane alternative to Stalinism.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Al Duran

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tania Barnes

  19. 4 out of 5

    James

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

  21. 5 out of 5

    T.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nic

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barry Smirnoff

  24. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Cobb

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Feltskog

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tony duncan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Parker

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rodolfo

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