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Review of A. B. Nikolaev, Revoliutsiia i vlast’: How Has Nikolaev Changed the Interpretation of the February Revolution?

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A.B. Nikolaev’s book has not received much attention either in the West or in Russia, but it is an important book that has significantly changed our understanding the February Revolution of 1917. Nikolaev’s meticulously researched monograph, based on a wide array of new sources, challenges the previously dominant interpretation that the Provisional Committee of the State Duma (Duma Committee) was forced to seize power only to stem the tide of the insurgency from below. He argues that the Duma Committee was from its inception clear about its intention to overthrow the old regime and to create a new power to replace it even before the Petrograd Soviet was formed. The Duma Committee played a crucial role in prompting military units to take the side of the revolution, in steering the insurgents to the State Duma, in creating the Military Commission to organize insurgents to occupy strategic positions in the city, in taking over the food supply commission to feed the insurgents, in attacking and destroying the tsarist police, while preventing and suppressing potentially dangerous anarchical pogroms, and in taking control over the imperial bureaucracy. Nikolaev also raises an interesting question about the relationship between the Duma Committee, the State Duma and the Provisional Government by arguing that the Provisional Government made a hasty and cardinal mistake in cutting its relationship with the State Duma. This book is a landmark in the interpretation of the February Revolution, and especially of the role of the Duma liberals in the revolution.

Affiliations: 1: University of California at Santa Barbara


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