Whilemost of the works about the have been unable tostand the test of time, Chamberlin’s TheFirst hassurvived and managed to be an outstanding masterpiece. The articlechronicles the history and important events that shaped therevolution and its implications on the world. Chamberlin worked as ajournalist in Moscow reporting for the Christian Science Monitor fora decade up to 1932. Moreover, he took advantage of his profession topresent an account of the events and occurrences that surrounded therevolution, starting from the great fall of Tsar. The New EconomicPolicy and its ramifications are also substantially covered in thisfirst volume. Chamberlin relied on a broad array of sources likeinterviews and some primary documents to gather relevant informationon the events that astronomically changed Soviet Russia. Though theexcerpt might not have been the most popular amongst other relatedworks, it amassed a significant following, particularly from theEnglish readers from all over the world. A more popular read waspresented by John Reed on the same subject, titled TenDays that Shook the World.Inthis case, while Chamberlin’s TheFirst mightnot be the most famous articles on the , it offersa rich account of events, mayhem, and political technicalities thatsurrounded the insurgency.
Chamberlinlays a concrete background for his article in the introductoryhighlights. In fact, most of the content here dwells on some keyhistorical events. In his words, he states that the fall of theRussian Empire “was a consequence of one of the most spontaneous,unplanned, unorganized leaderless mass revolts in history(Chamberlin, 1967).” In this case, readers who know little aboutSoviet Russia are given a reliable orientation that can be pivotal inshaping their understanding of the underlying factors that triggeredthe revolution. Most evidently, Chamberlin analyzes carefully theeffects of several people and proceedings on the psychology of theRussian masses. The author also looks at other happenings like the1905 Revolution that triggered the establishment of the Duma(Chamberlin,1967). Consequently, he is keen enough not to skip the impact of thediverse political tendencies on the conflict. Slavophiles, Nihilists,Marxists, and Decemberists are some of the groups examined in thisvolume. Speeches and notable refrains like “Stupidity or Treason”were prevalent during the time (Chamberlin,1967).
Chamberlingoes on to detail the actual revolution including events like theseizure of Czar, the Bolsheviks’ victory, and the Bret-Litovsktalks. The establishment of a Kerensky-led government could only beshort-lived as chaos and revolts ensued all over the land(Chamberlin,1967). Ultimately, the provisional regime could not withstand therevolution any longer and was obliged to yield to the Bolsheviks(Chamberlin,1967). The article explains all these events in an insightful andelaborative manner such that an average reader can understand all themajor occasions that transpired before, during, and after theconflict.
Furthermore,Chamberlin’s work is extensive, concrete, and well-organized. Mostimportantly, he ensures that there is a smooth chronological flow ofevents. On top of that, his article has carefully crafted examinationof the philosophies, ideologies, politics, and socioeconomic eventswhose impact on the revolution could not be ignored. Nonetheless,Chamberlin’s work reveals his inclination towards a subjective,rather than neutral, stance when discussing some issues. The author,perhaps intentionally, failed to acknowledge the brewingramifications of the tyranny of Stalin’s leadership. Another eventthat Chamberlin recalls is that of Lenin, especially when he saidthat “we of the older generation may not live to see the decisivebattle of this coming revolution (Chamberlin, 1967).” However, theauthor believes that Lenin’s victory was plausible while ignoringthe subjects who propelled the revolution towards success. Indeed,Chamberlin believes that Lenin is "single-minded" andcalculative.
Allin all, TheFirst is an article that is rich in content and a scholarly analysis thatcan be of great help to anyone interested in the history of SovietRussia. It presents the events, politics, and occurrences thatsurrounded the revolution that took place in Soviet Russia in theearly twentieth century. TheFirst isstill among the best reads on the subject despite facing fiercecompetition from other more famous works like the TenDays that Shook the Worldamong others.
Chamberlin,W. H. (1967). The first Russian revolution. RussianReview, 26(1),4-12.