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Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution

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  • Publication planned for: November 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from November 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107195998

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About the Authors
  • When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, they announced the overthrow of a world scarred by exploitation and domination. In the very moment of revolution, these sentiments were put to the test as antisemitic pogroms swept the former Pale of Settlement. The pogroms posed fundamental questions of the Bolshevik project, revealing the depth of antisemitism within sections of the working class, peasantry and Red Army. Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution offers the first book-length analysis of the Bolshevik response to antisemitism. Contrary to existing understandings, it reveals this campaign to have been led not by the Party leadership, as is often assumed, but by a loosely connected group of radicals who mobilized around a Jewish political subjectivity. By examining pogroms committed by the Red Army, Brendan McGeever also uncovers the explosive overlap between revolutionary politics and antisemitism, and the capacity for class to become racialized in a moment of crisis.

    • Introduces an overlooked chapter in the history of anti-Jewish violence in eastern Europe
    • Offers a new perspective on how antisemitism can overlap with class relations
    • Uses archival sources to challenge previously held assumptions about antisemitism and the Russian Revolution
    Read more


    • Winner, 2019 Ronald Tress Prize, Birkbeck, University of London

    Reviews & endorsements

    'With a remarkable mastery of the historiography and a deep investigation of primary sources, McGeever unveils the conflation between war and revolution, class and ethnos in the early Soviet Union. Displaying a style both analytical and narrative, he shifts elegantly from macro- to micro-history and rebuilds the complexity of the relationship between Bolshevism and the 'Jewish question'. This is an outstanding work.' Enzo Traverso, Cornell University, New York

    'In this highly original and deeply researched study, McGeever reconstructs the efforts of the Bolshevik leadership to confront antisemitism in the Red Army during the Civil War (1918–21), but rigorously and dispassionately exposes the ideological and practical limitations of their efforts.' S. A. Smith, University of Oxford

    'An outstanding contribution to scholarship on early Bolshevik policy toward Jews, our understanding of pogroms, and the dynamics of early communist rule. McGeever reveals the role of non-Bolshevik socialists in combating antisemitism and offers a corrective to the received wisdom that Red Army soldiers did not participate in pogroms. A tour-de-force of historical scholarship.' Robert Weinberg, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania

    'Exceptionally well written, based on extensive, original, research, compellingly argued, and characterized by sound judgment and impressive insight, this is a work which makes a major contribution to scholarly debates revolving around the relationship(s) between the Bolsheviks and antisemitism, and which richly deserves to reach a wide audience.' Jack Jacobs, City University of New York

    'A vital contribution to the history of the Russian Revolution, of socialism more generally, and of antisemitism as a modern political force.' Laura Engelstein, Yale University, Connecticut

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: November 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107195998
    • length: 258 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Not yet published - available from November 2019
  • Table of Contents

    A note on translation
    Terms and abbreviations
    1. 1917: antisemitism in the moment of revolution
    2. 'Red pogroms': Spring 1918
    3. The Soviet response to antisemitism, 1918
    4. Antisemitism and revolutionary politics: the Red Army in Ukraine, 1919
    5. The Soviet response to antisemitism in Ukraine, February–May 1919
    6. Conclusions: anti-racist praxis in the Russian Revolution
    7. Reinscribing antisemitism? The Bolshevik approach to the 'Jewish question'
    Epilogue: in the shadow of pogroms

  • Author

    Brendan McGeever, Birkbeck College, University of London
    Brendan McGeever is Lecturer in Sociology at Birkbeck, University of London. His work examines the relationship between antisemitism and racism, historically up to the present day. He is based at the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, where he teaches in the Department of Psychosocial Studies. He is a 2019 BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, with his work featuring across television and radio.


    • Winner, 2019 Ronald Tress Prize, Birkbeck, University of London

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