Books for changing the world
Year One of the Russian Revolution
Brimming with the honesty and passionate conviction for which he has become famous, Victor Serge’s account of the first year of the Russian Revolution—through all of its achievements and challenges—captures both the heroism of the mass upsurge that gave birth to soviet democracy, and the crippling circumstances that began to chip away at its historic gains. Year One of the Russian Revolution is Serge’s attempt to defend the early days of the revolution against those, like Stalin, who would claim its legacy as justification for the repression of dissent within Russia.
  • “[T]he re-issuing of this remarkable work, by a truly remarkable individual, is so timely, and welcome...For all its faults (and Peter Sedgwick, who translated this work, is unsparing in his criticisms of some of Serge’s analyses), this work is a tribute to an outstanding, and unyielding revolutionary who told it as he saw it, was a fearless opponent of Stalin, and an intransigent revolutionary to his dying day. More importantly, it gives the reader an ability to comprehend the hard choices facing revolutionaries at a time when no one knew the outcome, when the very revolution itself was facing defeat...All of which makes this an heroic work.”
    —Richard Allday, Counterfire

    “He was an eyewitness of events of world historical importance, of great hope and even greater tragedy. His political recollections are very important, because they reflect so well the mood of this lost generation . . . His articles and books speak for themselves, and we would be poorer without them.”
    Partisan Review

    “I know of no other writer with whom Serge can be very usefully compared. The essence of the man and his books is to be found in his attitude to the truth. There have of course been many scrupulously honest writers. But for Serge the value of the truth extended far beyond the simple (or complex) telling of it.”
    –John Berger

    “A witness to revolution and reaction in Europe between the wars, Serge searingly evoked the epochal hopes and shattering setbacks of a generation of leftists…Yet under the bleakest of conditions, Serge’s optimism, his humane sympathies and generous spirit, never waned. A radical misfit, no faction, no sect could contain him; he inhabited a lonely no-man’s-land all his own. These qualities are precisely what make him such an inspiring, even moving figure.”
    —Book Forum

    “The novels, poems, memoirs and other writings of Victor Serge are among the finest works of literature inspired by the October Revolution that brought the working class to power in Russia in 1917. . . . His articles—like the work of John Reed, his American friend—let us follow revolutionary events as they unfold, as seen through the eyes of an exceptionally alert journalist.”
    —Scott McLemee

    "Victor Serge is one of the unsung heroes of a corrupt century."
    —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost

    "This was Serge’s first non-literary work, composed in the late 1920s and, as he put it, “in detached fragments which could each be separately completed and sent abroad post-haste”. The book is both a testament to the popularity of the revolution and the hard necessities imposed on Red Petrograd confronted with the White counterrevolution. He was working on Year Two when he was permitted to leave Stalin’s Russia in 1936. The secret police decided to keep this manuscript and that of a complete novel, both of which disappeared from their archives."

    —Tariq Ali

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Other books by Victor Serge, edited and translated by Peter Sedgwick