Author Topic: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars  (Read 44978 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars
« Reply #90 on: August 16, 2018, 03:41:07 PM »
THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION by Sean McMeekin   

History as conservative agitprop. McMeekin is out to demonstrate that the Bolsheviks came to power because of a small, organized coup d'etat that had little to no popular support. They were helped by Imperial Germany's support (d'uh, although McMeekin assigns a far greater role to the Kaiser in World War I than Wilhelm's generals and governments did; McMeekin keeps having the emperor making decisions that impact policy. Surely not by 1916?), the general ineptness of Kerensky and Rodzianko, and the lack of commitment by the Allies to overthrowing the regime during 1919-1920. All of this makes sense, and he tells the story briskly. Where he lost me was the description of Russia in February, 1917. The military was confident that the army was going to overwhelm the Central Powers on every front, the soldiers were not disaffected after three years of horrendous losses, military supplies were plentiful, there were no real food shortages in Petrograd, all, in fact, was going well when the Tsar was toppled by Rodzianko. McMeekin begins the story with Rasputin's murder and the semi-hysteria about the staretz that gripped the Russian aristocracy, who blamed him and the Tsarina for the "inevitable" collapse of the autocracy. Once Rasputin is safely tucked under the ice in the Neva, events cascade, and before you know it, Nicholas II is forced to abdicate. McMeekin finds this ironic, as Rasputin had famously advised Nicholas not to take the empire into World War I.

A lot of this flies in the face of what we know about Nicholas and Alexandra. They were wilfully stupid people, and that is putting it mildly. Nicholas wound up undercutting every competent minister he ever had, zestfully aided in this by his wife and her faith healer. During the war he went to Stavka and assumed "command" of the army. In practice, this meant he was blamed for every defeat the Russians suffered. Meanwhile, Alexandra wrote reams everyday to him demanding appointments for hacks because Rasputin recommended them. No autocracy could survive this level of executive incompetence. I had the impression that because what followed Nicholas II was so much worse than the imperial system for the vast majority of Russians that McMeekin turns Romanov rule into a false positive. The fact is that imperial autocracy collapsed extremely quickly. And while it is interesting speculation about the capabilities of Russia's armies in 1917, they did not, in fact, want to continue fighting. The moment a central government in Petrograd loosened its hold on the General Staff, the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary virtually ended.

McMeekin is entitled to be bitter about the Allied response to Nicholas' overthrow. The Russian Empire had bought the West precious time against the Central Powers by sacrificing millions of soldiers. And yet the Entente was always embarrassed by the alliance with an absolute autocracy, and prematurely rejoiced after the February Revolution.

McMeekin cherry picks his facts in support of his thesis, which is simplistic (he draws a straight line from Bolshevism to Bernie Sanders) and fails to account for the undeniable support communism picked up from Russians after the October overthrow (which really was a small coup, he is dead right) and subsequent chaos. There were a number of interesting nuggets of information in the book: the Okhrana, or Tsarist secret police, was infinitely smaller than the Bolshevik equivalent, theCHEKA. Lenin had a taste for luxury, negotiating an extreme sum with Rolls Royce for parts for the limousine he used, commandeered from Grand Duke Michael. The level of invective directed at the government by the Duma was unbelievably open during late 1916/early 1917. No one, not even Lenin, was in complete control of anything. Indeed, it was left to Stalin to consolidate the Revolution for what it was --- a naked power grab. But much like the French Revolution, the Russian spiraled out of control until it ended once again . . . in autocracy.
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline JamesAPrattIII

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
Re: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars
« Reply #91 on: September 29, 2018, 10:04:31 PM »
Here are three historical presentations:

Fortress: The Dawn of Total war in East-central Europe 1914-1915

Russia's Women Soldiers by Laurie Stoff who wrote the book "They Fought for the Motherland" on this topic this is a supplement for another

Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappenport

Offline JamesAPrattIII

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
Re: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars
« Reply #92 on: October 30, 2018, 03:18:23 PM »
There is a new book out "In the Eye of the Storm King George V and the Great War" by Alexandra Churchill I have not read it but it does deal with his decision on not giving Nicholas II asylum.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
Re: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars
« Reply #93 on: November 08, 2018, 09:25:17 AM »
I have some comments and errata on Dr Laurie Stoff's book "They Fought for the Motherland" and the presentation Russia's Women soldiers:

In some of the pictures it has Russian officers wearing black uniforms starting in 1916 some Russian staff officers started wearing black uniforms or black tunics. They are the same or similar to the uniforms worn by Russian Naval officers and officers of the Russian Military air fleet.

Stoff points out that Maria Bochkareva's memoirs "Yashaka: My Life as a Peasant, officer and Exile" is not too accurate

9-10 july 1917 attack the 1st Russian Woman's Battalion of Death takes only 24 not 100 prisoners and 2 machine guns. They also capture 3 lines of trenches. This seems like  a lot but German defense in depth doctrine of this period the forward trenches were left thinly manned and the main line of resistance was about a mile to the rear. so taking the forwards trenches wasn't to big of a problem. As for the prisoners they were probably either caught in their dugouts and couldn't get out to fight before the Russian were on top of them or manning a forward position(s) that got cut off and surrendered. Being captured by WOMEN was a real shock to a 1917 German hence one of them trying to commit suicide. The next day 10 July they Battalion was hit by a German counter attack and had to retreat. Stoff has 170 Women taking part in this attack and they suffered 2 killed 2 missing and 36 wounded one of the wounded later died. Bochkarva was one of the wounded. Stoff also points out some other units of the Russian army did take part in this attack and did well the 2nd 4th and 7th Siberian Rifle regiments.

The 1st Petrograd Women"s battalion ( a different unit and the defense of the Winter Palace. Have of the 2nd Company of this battalion 137 women and their male officers were sent to defend the palace after some fighting at the outside barracades where one women was killed and one male officer was wounded. The women were ordered back inside the palace were their officers all men told them they were going to surrender which they did and were harassed ect by the reds as they came out. They later joined the rest of the battalion where the other women were "upset" to put it mildly at them surrendering. Some historians over the years have pointed out the women in the palace were afraid to fight. Stoff points out if this were true then why didn't any of them run off like most of the rest of the defenders.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
Re: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars
« Reply #94 on: November 08, 2018, 09:32:16 AM »
One bit of errata for the book "they fought for the Motherland" page 155 mentions "one disabled tank" there were no tanks in Russia at this time. The Russian during this period sometimes called half tracked vehicles Russian tanks. There was one in Petrograd a Allies-Chambers half tracked vehicle converted to an armored car which took part in both the Feb/Mar and Oct/Nov 1917 revolutions. It had a machine gun in a top turret and a 76mm gun sticking out the rear of the vehicle. The landships forum landships.activeboards.com armored car section has some pictures of it.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
Re: Books on the Russian Civil War WWI and other wars
« Reply #95 on: November 25, 2018, 07:20:50 PM »
For Ann the league of WW I aviation historians seminar in Sept 2018 included a presenation on German WW I ace Ernst Udet by Greg VanWyngarden there are also on youtube some film clips of Udet doing some really impressive stunt flying between the wars. just thought you would like to know.