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Professor Christopher Read

Chris Read  

Contact Information


Academic Profile
  • Current Appointment Professor in Twentieth-Century European History
  • University of Keele. B.A.
  • University of Glasgow M.Phil. in Soviet Studies
  • London School of Economics. Ph.D. (Econ)
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • 1973 Appointed Lecturer in Twentieth Century European History, History Department, University of Warwick
  • 1991 Promoted to Senior Lecturer
  • 1997 Promoted to Readership
  • 2003 Promoted to Professorship
  • 2020 retired
Undergraduate Modules Taught
Postgraduate Modules Taught
Selected Publications
  • Religion, Revolution and The Russian Intelligentsia (London, Macmillan, 1979) 221pp.
  • Culture and Power in Revolutionary Russia (London, Macmillan, 1990) 266pp
  • From Tsar to Soviets: the Russian People and their Revolution (London, UCL Press; New York, Oxford University Press, 1996) 336pp.
  • The Making and Breaking of the Soviet System: an Interpretation. (Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave, 2001) 259pp
  • The Stalin Years: A Reader (Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave, 2002)
  • Lenin: A Revolutionary Life (Routledge Historical Biographies, Abingdon and New York 2005)
  • War and Revolution in Russia: 1914-22 - The Collapse of Tsarism and the Establishment of Soviet Power (Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave 2013)

My research activity has followed two closely related themes. The main one is the intellectual history of the Russian intelligentsia in the crucial years between 1900 and 1925. In association with this I have also pursued an interest in the social history of the Russian Revolution.

The bulk of my original archival and primary research has been on the former topic. In connection with it I have produced two monographs and a number of articles.

My first monograph was published in 1979 and was a detailed account of the political, social and religious thought of the Russian intelligentsia on the eve of the First World War. The main argument of my second monograph, which took the history of the intelligentsia in a broader socio-political as well as intellectual context, was that the 1920s in the Soviet Union was not so much a period of toleration of intellectual dissent - as proposed by a whole range of 'revisionist' historians - but was really a period of steadily growing intellectual repression. I have also produced an article of 4000 words on 'Bolshevik Cultural Policy' which was published in 1997 in Edward Acton and William Rosenberg (eds) A Critical Dictionary of the Russian Revolution.

The second theme of my research, the social history of the Russian Revolution, has been the subject of several articles and papers and, pre-eminently, of my third book, published in early 1996. The main argument here has been that the struggle between the Bolsheviks and the self-generating popular revolution of peasants, workers and, above all, soldiers and sailors in 1917 and after has been overlooked and was more decisive in shaping the institutions and attitudes of the Soviet government than the more widely studied struggle against the remnants of the former élite gathered in and around the White armies. My interpretation balances the power of the popular movement against the strongly prescriptive assumptions of the Bolsheviks, arguing that the tragedy of the Russian Revolution arose from the fact that the Bolsheviks were driven above all by their 'culture' - especially ideology - into destroying the 'real' revolution conducted by the population. From this arose many of the characteristics of 'Stalinism' which finally brought the system down seventy years later. This theme, the general social and political evolution of Soviet Russia, is at the heart of a volume that takes my argument into the period of the thirties and the Second World War. It involves mainly re-assessing Stalin in the light of new archival evidence and the raging debate about him of the last ten years. In addition, the breakdown and collapse of the system is considered. This volume was published at the beginning of June 2001

In recent years my research has focused on the the Eastern Front and the revolutionary period in preparation for the rolling centenaries of the start of the First World War, the Revolution of 1917, the Civil War and the founding of the Soviet Union. This has brought me into close contact with many scholars around the globe in my capacity as senior editor of the Russia's Great War and Revolution publishing and research project. Almost 300 contributors are taking part and about 15 books of state of the art research will start to be published from 2014 onwards.

I have also developed an interest in cross-cultural perceptions during the Cold War and after, especially through the medium of travel writing by visitors to the USSR/Russian Federation. I am also preparing a biography of Stalin due for completion at the end of 2014.