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Over the five years following the Russian revolution of 1917 there occurred a brilliant outburst of theory and criticism among Russian intellectuals struggling to comprehend their country's vast social upheaval. Much of their intense speculation focused on issues that are still hotly debated: Was this socialism? Why had the revolution happened in Russia? What did Bolshevik power mean for Russia and the Western world? This compelling study recovers these early responses to 1917 and analyzes the specific ideological context out of which they emerged. Jane Burbank explores the ideas and experiences of diverse prominent intellectuals, ranging from the monarchists on the right to the Mensheviks, Socialist revolutionaries, and Anarchists on the left. Following these thinkers through the turbulent years of civil war and rebuilding of state power, Burbank shows how revolution both revitalized their political culture and exposed the fragile basis of its existence.