Americans in Revolutionary Russia

Americans in Revolutionary Russia is focused on bringing back into print the observations and experiences of Americans who were witnesses to war and revolution in Russia between 1914 and 1921. There were numerous accounts by Americans from a variety of perspectives. These men and women offer a rich perspective on the tumultuous events that gripped Russia during this time. Most of these books have not been republished since they were first issued a hundred years ago. This series offers new editions of these works with an expert introduction, textual notation, and an index.


Series General Editors

William Benton Whisenhunt   Professor of History 
College of DuPage, USA

Norman Saul    Professor Emeritus 
University of Kansas, USA

John Reed

edited and annotated by William Benton Whisenhunt


Of all of the books by American witnesses of the Russian Revolution, John Reed's Ten Days That Shook the World was and still is the best known. Even though Reed arrived in Russia in September 1917 and left in the spring of 1918, his enthusiastic account focuses on the ten key days of the revolution itself, bringing to life the sights, sounds, and key people who were so instrumental in this critical event. Reed, officially a journalist, shed his objectivity and supported the Bolshevik cause, and this book was the key forum in which he made his case. In the end, the book has survived, and even thrived, as a primary source on the revolution, even though Reed died in 1920.

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Louise Bryant, edited by Lee A. Farrow

xix + 148

Louise Bryant and her husband John Reed were among a relatively small group of Americans who participated in one of the most important events of the twentieth century, the Russian Revolution of 1917. As first-hand observers, they attended meetings of the revolutionaries, were present at the Winter Palace as it was under attack, and witnessed the surrender of the palace guards. Over the next weeks, they saw a new regime emerge and met many of its most important figures, including Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, and Kollontai. Bryant returned home in 1918 and immediately began working on the book that would become Six Red Months in Russia. Unfortunately for Bryant, her sex and her relationship with Reed overshadowed her talent as a writer and the depth of her observations of this historic event. But Bryant deserves better; she had her own voice and was a skilled observer and journalist in her own right. While Reed’s book is certainly a significant work, it contains little personal commentary. Bryant’s account, by comparison, is also a documentation of the revolution, but it goes farther than Reed’s in many ways, adding interpretation to observation. Bryant communicates what life was like during the days of the revolution—the people, the food, the excitement, the fear. She is also keenly aware of her American audience and speaks directly to them, urging them to pay attention to this world-changing moment in history and not to be fooled by the misinformation about Bolshevism and the new regime. Six Red Months in Russia conveys Bryant’s understanding of the revolution, and reminds us of the utter enthusiasm that many Russians, and Americans, felt for socialism and its yet-untainted, utopian ideals. This new edition of Bryant’s book is annotated and set in its appropriate historical context to create a more accessible text for modern readers on the anniversary of this truly world-changing event. 

Edward Alsworth Ross, edited by Rex A. Wade

xx + 160 pp.
Edward Alsworth Ross, one of the founders of the academic field of sociology, spent July–December 1917 traveling across the Russian Empire and talking to the people there. As he states in his brief introduction, “I have taken it as my business to describe impartially the major social changes going on in Russia … in the latter half of 1917, and leave it to others or to time itself to judge them.” Ross follows through on that promise remarkably well, describing Russian peasants, the urban educated class, industrial workers, women, religion, people who had been imprisoned under tsarism, religion, the people of the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the proposals for democracy, among other topics.

Though this unique account focuses more on the people and less on politics than other accounts of the time, Ross includes a fascinating account of a lengthy private interview with Trotsky in December 1917. He ends the book by looking ahead to Russia’s possible future, from a perspective after the Bolsheviks took power but before the Civil War changed everything. Delving into important themes rarely mentioned in other foreigners’ writings about the Russian Revolution, Russia in Upheaval gives a unique sense of the times.

Ernest Poole

Edited and annotated by Norman E. Saul

xxix + 117

Chicago native, political activist, and journalist Ernest Poole (1880-1950) provides a distinctive view of the Bolshevik Revolution in his work, The Village: Russian Impressions. This work is unusual in the library of American accounts of Revolutionary Russia because he addresses the world of the Russian peasants, far away from the revolutionary centers of Petrograd and Moscow. He associated with a Russian priest, a doctor, a teacher, and a mill owner who offer a perspective not normally seen in this history of the Bolshevik Revolution. Poole's own views and those of the people he visited provide a fascinating account of the revolutionary era that helps readers a century later understand the complexity of this fascinating time.

Princess Julia Cantacuzène Countess Spéransky née Grant

Edited by Norman E. Saul

xxii + 170

Born in the White House in 1876, Julia Grant, granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant, had a life of adventure that included her marriage into the Cantacuzène family in 1900, and a move to Russia.  Her book gives the reader a firsthand account of Russia during World War I and recounts her travels across the empire, where she saw the horrors of war, revolution, and civil war only to escape to Finland to avoid the danger that many Russian nobles faced. Throughout her work, she expressed admiration for the cultures of Russian and non-Russian peoples of the empire.