Revising the Revolution
The Unmaking of Russia's Official History of 1917
Published by: Indiana University Press
The clash between scholarship and politics—between truth and propaganda—was ruthless for historians in Istpart, the Russian Communist Central Committee's official historical department.
Istpart was tasked with preserving the documentary record, compiling memoirs, and upholding ideological conformism within the national narrative of the 1917 revolution. In Revising the Revolution, Larry E. Holmes examines the role of Istpart's historians, in both the Moscow office and a regional branch in Viatka, who initially believed they could adhere to the traditional standards of research and simultaneously provide a history useful to the party. However, they quickly realized that the party rejected any version of history that suggested nonideological or nonpolitical sources of truth. By 1928, Istpart had largely abandoned its mission to promote scholarly work on the 1917 revolution and instead advanced the party's master narrative.
Revising the Revolution explores the battle for the Russian national narrative and the ways in which history can be used to centralize power.
Note on Transliteration
1. Istpart's Origins and Mission
2. At the Periphery
3. Multiple Scripts for 1905 and 1917
4. Viatka's 1917 Revolution in the Past and the Present
5. Fractured Finances
6. Moscow's Embrace of the Political
7. The Passing of Istpart and Professional Civility
8. Methodology Ex Cathedra: Stalin Speaks and Istpart's Legacy
9. Their Fate
Glossary of Prominent Individuals
In this innovative and readable study of the creation of the official history of the Russian Revolution, Larry Holmes documents how a politicalized history favored in Moscow wrestled with and eventually toppled a more balanced historical scholarship being written in the provinces. Holmes reminds us that to understand how Russian history was really made, we need to look beyond the center. The leading scholar in provincial history has struck gold again.~Aaron Retish
Revising the Revolution is a fascinating project that engages both with the relevant historiography and surviving archival documentation in serious and thoughtful ways.~David Brandenberger
Revising the Revolution shows a major command of a rich provincial archive and of other sources. . . . It is well written and readable, punctuated with personalities, local color, and a wealth of ironic and even humorous stories.~J. Arch Getty