Monday, August 10, 2009

Osprey Publishing, Essential Histories #69
One of the newest books released from Osprey, does an excellent job of describing the whirlwind of politics and fighting in the Russian Civil War. The book is full of period color and black and white photos as well as very cool looking color paintings of the era; the extensive maps make it easy to follow the written text of the campaigns on each front. 144 pages with index.
The book begins with a very useful chronology of the war from revolts in March 1917 (according to the Western, Gregorian calendar for simplicity) to the collapse of all counter-revolutionary factions and the annexation of the Far East by the Bolsheviks in November 1922. A description of the events leading to the war, the October Revolution (which, according to the Gregorian calendar occurred in November 1917!) is the introductory chapter. The next chapter discusses the primary and some secondary opponents in the civil war –Whites, Reds, Greens (local nationalists, outcast Socialist Revolutionaries, anarchists or simple bandits) and Blacks (anarchists), describing their political, military and ideological backgrounds. The basis for the strength of the Reds and inherent weakness/poor coordination of the Whites is laid in this chapter. This complicated war, actually a series of different, unrelated conflicts in North/Northwest Russia, South Russia and the Far East/Siberia is clearly presented in chapters according to chronological years. In each of these chapters, the conflicts in each of these major areas are described in clearly marked sub sections. Maps accompany each section to show the ebb and flow of the fighting.
Extra chapters cover cool sub-segments of the war – the confusing and, essentially, ineffective interventionist incursions in all sections of the war, women in the war and anarchists. The intervention of the Allies was doomed to failure – poor coordination, lack of vision and coming on the heels of four years of fighting in the Great War all hampered its effectiveness. The latter two chapters are very interesting and offer a glimpse into aspects of the conflict that are not well covered or documented (unless you can understand Russian to follow the series available on line: “The Nine Lives of Nestor Makhno”!) These three chapters form an “intermission” before the final chapters that cover the final Red Victory and the impact the Russian Civil War had on the 20th century.
This is an excellent book, one very well written and fun to read. The period paintings really are beautiful, the maps well done and the organization of the book makes this complicated conflict a little easier to understand. It is a must for those interested in the Russian Civil War and I highly recommend it. God Save the Tsar!
Price: $18.95


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