The russian civil war is a major event and one of the founding moments of Soviet communism. Lasting five years, it claimed several million victims (the figures are very uncertain and debated) and left the country in a delicate economic situation. A bloody but largely unknown event in France, Jean-Jacques Marie offers in this reissue History of the Russian Civil War 1917-1922 published by Éditions Tallandier in 2015 in pocket size a story through the testimonies of times of this major historical moment.
Red, white and green peasant armies
The subtitle of the original edition "Red, white and green peasant armies" published by Autrement sheds light on the content of the work: there will be a lot of discussion of the rural world and how the peasants ended up rallying the red armies. . The author highlights the importance and the action of the green armies. Denigrated by the reds and whites, these very disparate armies, local or regional, were qualified as bandits and brigands to disqualify them. Stalin's Manichean rewrite of the history of the Civil War did much to leave them in oblivion. For the author, the civil war was in germs from the constitution of February 1917 with two antagonistic powers which are the State Duma of the Russian Empire and the Soviet of workers and soldiers of Petrograd. This is also why he started it before the October Revolution.
The author presents a detailed chronological account of the operations of this war embellished with large extracts of testimonies commented on afterwards. By its nature, we can blame the work for not being sufficiently in the analysis and synthetic. The story is alive and well describes the massacres perpetrated during this war and the antisemitic overtones (on the subject see The Book of Pogroms: Antechamber of a Genocide, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, 1917-1922 by Nicolas Werth). The author sets up a gallery of colorful portraits. Despite a real desire for accessibility, the story may lose some readers who do not master Russian geography or history.
Not being a specialist in the matter, it seems necessary to note that a certain number of reservations exist on the content which have already been mentioned in previous reviews. The best known is that of the non-mention of the Astrakhan massacre in 1919 and the mention of the non-use of gas (p. 358-359) to suppress the Tambov revolt in 1921 questionable and contested by many historians including Bobkov, AS in the article `` On the Issue of using asphyxiating gas in the suppression of the Tambov uprising '' in The Journal of Slavic Military Studies in 2012.
This book does not really analyze the conflict but offers a chronological account of the civil war and not a thematic one. Certain choices and omissions are unfortunate, whether in content or in the structure of the book: although there is a relevant iconography (portraits and caricatures), a fine chronology of events, a glossary and biographies of the main characters, we do not We can only regret the absence of maps to clarify the subject, of notes or of bibliography. If this book is one of the few accessible dealing with the subject exhaustively in French, it is unfortunate that certain faults cannot put it in the category of essentials.
History of the Russian Civil War 1917-1922, by, Jean-Jacques MARIE. Texto - Tallandier, 2015.