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Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917 (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2000) Study Questions

Week 1

Preface and pp. 1-17 (up to the section on World War One)


According to Wade's preface, what is his aim in this book?

What four specific aspects of the book does Wade describe as new and/or original?  How will he address the issues of political realignments, the relationship between political and social history, the geographic scope of the revolution, and the periodization of the revolution?

On what kinds of sources is this book based?

How is Wade using the term "Russian"?


Chapter 1, pp. 1-17

How does Wade define "autocracy," and what about the personality and government of Tsar Nicholas II contributed to Russia's political weakness? (For instance, what does Wade have to say about the process of decision making, the issue of rights, and the tsarist policy toward national minorities?)

According to Wade...

In what ways were Russia's economic and social systems in transition on the eve of World War One, and what strains did this put on the empire's population?  For instance:

    1) What had changed/was changing  in the countryside and what social     grievances would drive peasant unrest? 

    2)  What role did the government play in industrialization, how rapidly did Russia industrialize, and what social and political grievances drove worker unrest?   

    3)  What aspects of the Russian industrial labor force contributed to a "broad lower-class vs upper classes mentality"?

    4)  What factors contributed to creating a working-class identity and fostered workers' political radicalism?

    5) What elements constituted Russia's growing middle classes?

    6) What did the term "obshchestvo"  mean, and why did "educated society" have political grievances against the autocracy?  Did workers and peasants see themselves as part of the obshchestvo?

    7)  What was the "intelligentsia" and what social views tended to predominate among this group?

    8)  What other social changes were pushing Russia toward revolution?

What was Narodnichestvo and how had the Populists sought to transform Russia before the creation of the SR Party in 1901 (what was their goal and what means did they use?)

What were the aims of the SRs and what factors hindered the party's success?

What caused the split between the Social-Democratic Party's Menshevik and Bolshevik wings?  How did the two factions differ from each other after their 1903 schism?

What issues/controversies tore at the revolutionary parties in the period 1905-1916?  In particular, what position did Lenin and the more radical socialist elements take on the issues of cooperation with the liberals and support for Russia's war effort?

What were the major aims of Russia's liberal movement (and particularly of the Constitutional Democratic Party)?

What causes triggered revolution in 1905?  How did the government of Nicholas I initially respond to the revolution?

What was the "October Manifesto" and what impact did it have?

What were the results of the 1905 Revolution? 

Did Nicholas and his closest advisors believe in the constitutional system ostensibly created as a result of the 1905 Revolution?  Explain!

Why did Stolypin change the electoral system in June 1907 and what were the results?  What three consequences does Wade see as moving Russia toward another revolution?

What kinds of reforms did Stolypin institute between 1906 and 1911 and why?  What were the results?

Does Wade think that Russia was becoming more stable or less stable in the years immediately before World War One?  What evidence does he present?