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China Miéville on “October: The Story of the Russian Revolution”

China Miéville, author of “October: The Story of the Russian Revolution,” in discussion with Barbara C. Allen and Bhaskar Sunkara. At Verso Books in Brooklyn, May 19, 2017.

Award-winning writer China Miéville has long been inspired by the ideals of the Russian Revolution and here, on the centenary of the revolution, he provides his own distinctive take on its history.

In February 1917, in the midst of bloody war, Russia was still an autocratic monarchy: nine months later, it became the first socialist state in world history. How did this unimaginable transformation take place? How was a ravaged and backward country, swept up in a desperately unpopular war, rocked by not one but two revolutions?

This is the story of the extraordinary months between those upheavals, in February and October, of the forces and individuals who made 1917 so epochal a year, of their intrigues, negotiations, conflicts and catastrophes. From familiar names like Lenin and Trotsky to their opponents Kornilov and Kerensky; from the byzantine squabbles of urban activists to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire; from the revolutionary railroad Sublime to the ciphers and static of coup by telegram; from grand sweep to forgotten detail.

Historians have debated the revolution for a hundred years, its portents and possibilities: the mass of literature can be daunting. But here is a book for those new to the events, told not only in their historical import but in all their passion and drama and strangeness. Because as well as a political event of profound and ongoing consequence, Miéville reveals the Russian Revolution as a breathtaking story.

About the speakers:

China Miéville is the multi-award-winning author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. His fiction includes The City and the City, Embassytown and This Census-Taker, and has won the Hugo, World Fantasy and Arthur C. Clarke awards; his non-fiction includes the photo-illustrated essay London’s Overthrow and Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law. He has written for various publications, including the New York Times, Guardian, Conjunctions and Granta and he is a founding editor of the quarterly Salvage.

Barbara C. Allen is Associate Professor of History at La Salle University in Philadelphia, USA. She has published articles in Cahiers du Monde Russe, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, and Revolutionary Russia. She is the author of Alexander Shlyapnikov, 1885–1937: Life of an Old Bolshevik (Haymarket Books).

Bhaskar Sunkara is an American political writer, editor and publisher of Jacobin magazine. He is the editor of several books including the ABCs of Socialism (Verso) and Europe in Revolt: Mapping the New European Left (Haymarket).

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