Introduced by A. J. P. Taylor
Preface by John Simpson
Foreword by V. I. Lenin
John Reed’s immersive eyewitness account of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
The Bolshevik Revolution that would sweep away the old order, end Russian involvement in the First World War and set Communism in motion took place over just a few days in October and November 1917. A young American journalist, John Reed, witnessed the stirring events taking place and was swept along with them – entering the Winter Palace alongside Bolshevik troops. His celebrated account, written in the flush of revolutionary zeal, sizzles with breathless energy as Reed paces the streets of Petrograd, talking to workers, peasants newly arrived from the country and soldiers on leave. He attends meetings, picks up handbills and records sounds, sights – even smells – with impressionistic immediacy. His observations of Lenin, ‘dressed in shabby clothes, his trousers much too long for him’, or Trotsky, ‘fiery, indefatigable, giving orders, answering questions’, provide a fascinating portrait of those larger-than-life figures.
‘As a glimpse of a supremely exciting moment in human history, Ten Days That Shook the World is incomparable’
Reed wanted to capture ‘the spirit which animated the people, and how the leaders looked, talked and acted’ and he succeeded, for he was a talented writer and a conscientious journalist. Reading his book is to plunge into those tumultuous days, when the world was close to chaos and yet filled with passion for the possibility of change. Reed died before he could witness the disintegration of Communist ideals, the purges and economic failures. Had he lived, no doubt he would have been a victim himself – ‘He was too honest a reporter,’ comments John Simpson, 'to keep quiet about things he knew were false.’ Ten Days That Shook the World is both an unsurpassed classic of reportage and an astonishingly forceful evocation of events whose shockwaves still linger in the world a century later. This edition, published to commemorate the centenary features 16 pages of plates and a frontispiece, including striking images of Petrograd during the upheaval. Neil Gower has created hand-drawn maps for the endpapers, and the binding design is based on an original revolutionary poster.
‘A masterpiece of reportage’
John Reed (1887–1920), was an American journalist, poet and Socialist activist. Educated at Harvard, Reed wrote for several papers including Socialist newspaper The Masses, The Saturday Evening Post, Metropolitan magazine and The Forum. In 1914 he reported on the Mexican Revolution and later depicted these events in Insurgent Mexico (1914). During the First World War Reed travelled to Europe to cover the battle front, which led to his publication of The War in Eastern Europe (1916). In 1917 Reed and his wife, Louise Bryant, entered Russia to work as journalists and cover the October Revolution. Arrested several times for his radical political actions, Reed became a symbol of the Bolshevik Revolution. He died in Moscow in 1920 and was buried at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.
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