Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 5.1 (2004) 169-177
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Documents and Politics in 1917
Dept. of History
219 O'Shaughnessy Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0368 USA
Men'sheviki v 1917 godu [The Mensheviks in 1917]. Edited under the direction of Ziva Galili, Leopold Haimson, and Al'bert Pavlovich Nenarokov. Vol. 1: Ot ianvaria do iiul'skikh sobytii [From January to the July Days]. Edited by Ziva Galili and A. P. Nenarokov. Moscow: Progress-Akademiia, 1994. 752 pp. ISBN 5-85864-031-1. Part of the series Politicheskie partii Rossii: Konets XIX-pervaia tret' XX veka. Dokumental'noe nasledie [Political Parties in Russia: The End of the 19th and First Third of the 20th Century. The Documentary Inheritance], under the general editorship of Valentin Valentinovich Shelokhaev.
Partiia sotsialistov-revoliutsionerov: Dokumenty i materialy, 1900-1925 [The Socialist Revolutionary Party: Documents and Materials, 1900-25]. Compiled, edited, and introduced by Nikolai Dmitreevich Erofeev. 3 vols. Vol. 3, pt. 1: Fevral'-oktiabr' 1917 g. [February-October 1917]. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2000. 960 pp. ISBN 5-86004-064-4. Part of the series Politicheskie partii Rossii: Konets XIX-pervaia tret' XX veka. Dokumental'noe nasledie [Political Parties in Russia: The End of the 19th and First Third of the 20th Century. The Documentary Inheritance], under the general editorship of Valentin Valentinovich Shelokhaev.
Arkhiv noveishei istorii Rossii [Archive of Contemporary Russian History]. Vol. 7: Zhurnaly zasedanii Vremennogo pravitel 'stva [Protocols of the Sessions of the Provisional Government]. 4 parts. Pt. 1: Mart-aprel' 1917 goda [March-April 1917]. Edited by B. F. Dodonov, E. D. Grin'ko, and O. V. Lavinskaia. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001. 448 pp. ISBN 5-82430-203-0.
The three collections under review, together with the recently published papers of the Petrograd Soviet, represent the most valuable contributions to date to the relatively small but steadily expanding body of documentary publications on 1917. 1 The volumes, substantially expanding our empirical base [End Page 169] while charting new directions for future research, are sure to challenge many previously held assumptions and raise an important and timely question about our readiness (empirical and methodological) to rethink the traditional narrative (or narratives) of 1917.
The Men'sheviki volume is the first of a three-volume (four-part) series on the Menshevik Party in 1917 edited by three leading authorities on Russian Social Democracy—Ziva Galili, Leopold Haimson, and Al'bert Pavlovich Nenarokov—and published in Moscow between 1994 and 1997. Volume 1, edited by Galili and Nenarokov, contains more than 200 documents culled from six archival repositories in Russia and the United States, covering the period from January 1917 until the July Days. Most of these documents were collected by the legendary Menshevik activist and historian Boris Ivanovich Nikolaevskii [Nicolaevsky] before and after his emigration to Western Europe in the 1920s; others were assembled by the Inter-University Project on Menshevik History in the 1960s.
The volume opens with brief but informative remarks by Nenarokov on the history of this Russian-American collaboration and the provenance of the documents. This preamble is followed by an exhaustive and at times passionate overview by Leopold Haimson of the two main currents of Russian Social Democracy, focused primarily on Menshevism from its origins through the early 1920s. Intended as a grand overture to all three volumes, the piece reflects Haimson's long-standing interest in the "Menshevik alternative" to Bolshevism and will prove especially useful to newcomers to the field of revolutionary history. Two additional introductory essays are authored by Viktor Iosifovich Miller and Ziva Galili. While Miller's essay summarizes his views on the Mensheviks in a sketch of party life from February to October, Galili's insightful and very helpful introduction focuses specifically on the period from January until the July Days, situating the materials of this volume within the appropriate historical and historiographical contexts.
The documents are arranged chronologically and distributed among three main parts supplemented by several appendices. The first part presents a [End Page 170] range of materials—from...