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Colin Barker

Paper Riches

(Spring 1967)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.28,Spring 1967, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923
E.H. Carr
Penguin, 3 vols 9s 6d each

These are the first three of the eight volumes of E.H. Carr’s History of Soviet Russia. Space forbids more than a brief recommendation to every IS reader who has not already done so to avail himself of the opportunity Penguins have given him of buying these books at a relatively cheap price, to be studied and treasured. For Carr’s History is simply indispensable as a mine of finely digested and presented information. His scholarship is exemplary, his detail overwhelming, his judgements finely balanced. At the same time, Carr is no Marxist. He is at his best dealing with the stuff of more conventional politics, diplomacy and administration; but those who wish to learn about the working class that created the Bolshevik Revolution and that disintegrated as a political force all too soon afterwards must turn to other sources, to Trotsky’s History and elsewhere. And Lenin, Trotsky and the other Bolshevik theorists must still be read for a full comprehension of the choices facing the Bolsheviks in the agonising days from October until the death of Lenin. And on one issue in particular, that of workers’ control, Carr’s lack of involvement leads him to underestimate the scale of the post-October tragedy.

None the less, Carr must be read, and read again. We can only hope that Penguins will complete their gift to English-speaking socialists by publishing the remaining five volumes.

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Last updated: 3.1.2008