Having achieved ascendancy over his rivals, Stalin embarked Russia on a colossal programme of industrial growth and social transformation – a second revolution, but this time directed from above by the power of the Soviet state. Continue reading
The main question that you need to be able to write about on this topic is simply: why did Stalin win the power struggle that followed the incapacitation and death of Lenin? Continue reading
When the Bolsheviks “came to power” in October 1917 it was by no means obvious that they would survive. Having proclaimed the new era of Soviet power and socialist revolution, the writ of the new regime barely operated outside the major cities and it faced the basic challenge of either establishing control over the existing machinery of government, or creating a new one. Continue reading
The October Revolution is the pivotal event of 20th century history, let alone this exam course; approximately 50% of past papers contain a question about this seminal event. Continue reading
The fall of the Tsarist regime in 1917 is a pivotal moment in this course – all the previous developments since 1881 can be seen to have led up to this event. It is thus a little surprising that the examiners have not set many questions on this topic. Continue reading
Another popular area with the examiners is the question of why the Tsarist regime was able to survive in the decades before the First World War, often coupled with the weakness and divided nature of the opposition movements.
Questions about the extent of reform in late Tsarist Russia have often been set by the examiners. Copyright restrictions prohibit me from listing the actual questions here, but you can find them out for yourselves by following the process outlined here.
These questions ask variously about “change”, “modification”, “reform” or “transformation” – more or less the same, in terms of the issues you are required to write about. Continue reading
Counterfactual history (asking, and attempting to answer, “what if?” questions about the past) does not enjoy academic respectability, Continue reading
“…liberal pressure for further reform could be expected to gather momentum. Meanwhile, the military power of the State remained sufficient to maintain order while the beneficial medicine of socio-economic development consolidated the bases for a western-style pluralist democracy. ‘Then, as a thunderbolt, came the terrible catastrophe of 1914, and progress changed into destruction.'(Pavlovsky)” Continue reading