“Revolutions would be a lot more successful if we could make them with the people of the future, not the flawed, self-centred specimens we have now,” says Bolshevik soldier Pavel in Alan Gibbons’s fictional account of the Russian Revolution.
It is 1918. The revolution is faced with enemies everywhere. The old ruling class is regrouping.
Escaped Tsarist generals lead the White armies.
The revolutionary government faces successive crises—and a civil service that opposes its every move.
The characters we saw in the first volume, Winds of October, are now running or defending the fledgling workers’ state.
The consequences of their choices are life and death. They ask how to feed children when rations in the factories are down to 700 calories per day.
Other questions include how to maintain morale in the factories when shortages of materials means the loss of production and jobs?
Can the corrupting effect be halted by the internal police force, the Cheka, which encourages the most brutal behaviour?
What will happen to the goals of the revolution?
The reader will find little relief in this story. The exception is the characters who, with the new addition of a Jewish Bolshevik, encapsulate a different kind of society.
It’s one in which everyone, regardless of sex, sexual orientation or nationality, play an equal role.
The characters are flawed, but they are fighting to break the old order.
Their solidarity of purpose, courage and self?reflection provide glimpses of light in an otherwise darkening tale.
by Alan Gibbons
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