Introduction: Essential Preliminary Notes

1. "Russian Revolution" can mean three things: either the entire revolutionary movement, from the revolt of the Decembrists (1825) until the present; or only the two consecutive uprisings of 1905 and 1917; or, finally, only the great explosion of 1917. In this work, "Russian Revolution" is used in the first sense, as the entire movement.

This is the only way the reader will be able to understand the development and totality of events as well as the present situation in the U.S.S.R.

2. A relatively complete history of the Russian Revolution would require more than one volume. This would have to be a long-term project carried out by future historians. Here we are concerned with a more limited project whose aims are: (a) to provide understanding of the entirety of the movement; (b) to underline its essential elements, which are largely unknown abroad; (c) to make possible certain evaluations and conclusions.

As the work progresses, it becomes increasingly broad and detailed. It is mainly in the sections dealing with the upheavals of 1905 and 1917 that the reader will find numerous details which have until now been unknown, as well as a large number of previously unpublished documents.

3. One problem should be constantly kept in mind: the difference between the general development of Russia and that of Western Europe. In fact, an account of the Russian Revolution should be preceded by a complete historical study of the country, or better yet, should be inserted into such a study. But such a task would be far beyond the limits of our subject. To remedy this situation, we will give the reader historical information whenever this seems necessary.