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The Moderate Bolshevik
Mikhail Tomsky from The Factory to The Kremlin, 1880-1936

Mikhail Tomsky (1880-1936) was one of the most important and influential leaders of the early Soviet Union.

This first English-language biography of Tomsky reveals his central role in all the key developments in early Soviet history, including the stormy debates over the role of unions in the self-proclaimed workers’ state.

Charters Wynn’s compelling account illuminates how the charismatic Tomsky rose from an impoverished working-class background and years of tsarist prison and Siberian exile to become both a Politburo member and the head of the trade unions, where he helped shape Soviet domestic and foreign policy along generally moderate lines throughout the 1920s. His failed attempt to block Stalin’s catastrophic adoption of forced collectivization would tragically make Tomsky a prime target in the Great Purges.

  • "This is an excellent, deeply researched, and well-written book that will be required reading for those interested in Soviet history and will be useful for others in labor history."

    J. Arch Getty, The Russian Review

    "Charters Wynn’s engaging and scrupulously researched biography of Soviet trade union leader Mikhail Tomsky breaks new ground in the study of early Soviet political history. Depending on British and Russian archives and a substantive base of secondary sources, Wynn enriches and corrects older interpretations of Soviet trade union history and Communist Party politics in the 1920s."
    —Barbara C. Allen, author of Alexander Shlyapnikov, 1885-1937: Life of an Old Bolshevik.

    "Mikhail Tomsky is far from a household name among left-wing activists except for those who have studied the history of the Russian Revolution in some depth. In [this] very thorough account of the life of Tomsky, the American historian Charters Wynn goes an appreciable distance in reversing that unfortunate situation."
    —Sam Farber, New Politics