Saturday, March 28, 2020

Slezkine's House of Government

The House of Government strikes me as a very strange book – the sort of book I vaguely recall encountering during a course I once took called “Techniques of Literary Research.”  I encountered books created by very fastidious and painfully accurate historians that comprised details that more imaginative historians could put to good use.  Slezkine isn’t completely in that mold.  He strikes me as extremely imaginative, especially in the way he adapts his (IMHO) poorly supported Apocalyptic ideas to the inner workings of the Soviet Revolution.  And yet he also provides page after page of details about individuals the average (or at least this average) reader will have no interest in, but a “more serious” (?) historian might. 

And so it is strange to see the bulk of his book devoted to what used to be called scholarly “mule work” while the rest is the elevated literary part that supports Slezkine’s desire to write something more like a novel. 

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