The Revolution of 1905. A Short History

Article excerpt

Abraham Ascher. The Revolution of 1905. A Short History. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. xiv, 229 pp. Bibliography, index. $50.00 cloth. $19.95 paper.

This book is an abridgement of Abraham Ascher's excellent two-volume study of the 1905 revolution that was first published more than ten years ago. Although this single volume only represents one-third of the original work, Ascher has succeeded in retaining the qualities that made those books so important. He stresses that revolution was not confined to 1905 itself, but that it was a much longer process that lasted from 1904 until 1907. The outbreak of war with Japan in 1904 and the poor performance of Russia's troops gave a significant impetus to the latent discontent that affected many sections of Russian society. The events of Bloody Sunday in January 1905, when a peaceful demonstration by working people was dispersed with great force by Tsarist troops, marked the beginning of the most intense phase of the revolution that lasted until the issuing of the October Manifesto later in the year. Ascher emphasises, however, that this was not the end of the revolution by a long way. The October manifesto unleashed a great wave of public meetings as well as newspapers and magazines that gave voice to continuing radical opinion and the manifesto clearly failed to restore stability to Russia. The most violent and vigorous uprisings took place in the months after October 1905, and this was also when the regime used the greatest force to subdue rebellion. For Ascher, the revolution does not conclude until mid-1907 and the coup d'état by which the government changed the Duma electoral law to reduce radical representation in the new Russian parliament. …


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