Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: the history o the russian revolution

Learning Hooks and Summit Reaches

I can hear you now, “What in the world are learning hooks? And summit reaches? I thought this was a book blog!”

learning hooks
“Hush, little one. And Clopin will tell you!”

The reading of Trotsky’s The History of the Russian Revolution continues. I realized something this morning as I struggled through the text. I felt like I was reading random words strung together. Why? Because Trotsky assumes a lot of information is already known. Or maybe he’s writing about what he thinks is the most important. It reads like a list of chess moves.

This book isn’t for those just getting started on studying this era, but since I have some background knowledge, I’m going to keep reading. Occasionally, I get a glimpse of something I already know something about, so I can place the time and situation, add that information to my mental database, and learn something.

Wow…hold on a second. It’s the learning hooks thing again. If had no prior knowledge of the era, I’d having nothing to hang this highly technical and political information on. Humans learn best from narrative, stories of a more personal nature. We can add technical information on top of our existing storyline, but if we don’t have one, those details just drop to the floor and disappear. It’s something my son and were talking about on our hike yesterday.

Books and movies I’ve read and seen in the past have built a foundation for this new stuff. Stories about hardship in Russia, the culture, peasantry and serfdom, Tsars and wars, all give me the reasons behind the chess moves that Trotsky is showing me.

All a bunch of words to say, I’m a tad lost while I’m reading. I’d even go so far as to say I’m bored, but little sparks I get from time to time are encouraging me to keep going. Today, I got the picture that Russia, at the turn of the 20th century, didn’t have the larger shopkeeper, business, and landowner classes that Europe had. It had peasants and aristocrats. Once industrialism came, the peasants’ children, unable to make money at farming, moved to the cities for work. The start of the war increased this tremendously and caused major discontent. Trotsky believes this is why the socialist movement took off so quickly in Russia, and probably why it all descended into chaos and was taken over by Stalin. There was no large class of moneyed land and business owners stabilizing things with, “Hey now…let’s not be too hasty. I have interests to attend to as well.”

So…time not wasted reading, right?

Remember that hike I mentioned earlier? My youngest son had the day off and called ME to go hiking with him (insert honored mom smile here), so we met at a new (to us) park between us and tested it out. It’s called Bernardo Mount Summit; in case you’d like to check it out. We’re both terrible about choosing unknown locations. There are so many things that can go wrong. Will there be a bathroom? Parking? Will it suck? Will I feel like I wasted my day off? Yes, we’re overthinkers. That’s the danger of using your brain…it can take over the situation and ruin it.

This day was not ruined, not even a little. The park we chose was perfect, one I have been driving by for years thinking, “You know, that looks like a cool place.” But I never found occasion to stop and check it out.

For some strange reason, every time it’s just me and my youngest on a trail, we end up climbing to the top of a mountain. He sees “summit” and beelines, and I follow along behind. I always feel like a badass at the end. My sons are both great at that. They never make me feel like I’m old and feeble. They think I can do anything! The feeling is mutual.

There was great conversation, hilarious jokes, we attempted to entertain others and share the love along the way, we communed with nature and its small creatures, and no one died. We’ll be going back, and in greater number, because there are miles of more trail to explore there. It was good times, but today I will be resting…all day. Good thing I have this fat book to read. More coffee, my good sir!

The History of the Russian Revolution

It’s been over a year since I started looking into this subject and had to put it away, but I think I’m ready to dive into The History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky. I said I THINK I’m ready. I’m not 100% sure. I have a few reservations.

history of the russian revolution

Remember when I started my last book and mentioned that I’d probably with that book for quite some time? Well, this time I mean it. This book is over two inches thick and 1400 pages long!

Back in July of 2020, I started reading A People’s Tragedy – The Russian Revolution by Orland Figes because my son and I were watching Trotsky on Netflix. We were fascinated by the show, and I wanted to know more, so I did a quick search for “best book on the Russian Revolution” and Figes’ book was highly recommended in several articles.

I was not disappointed, but I was highly affected. The revolution, and Russia in general, has such a complicated history. There really is no place like it. The tragedy of it all, so many millions of people dead from war, famine, political bullshit. It’s terrifying. And there is so much we don’t know, so much was hidden from the rest of the world for so long.

Some of my friends have mentioned my “obsession with Russian culture,” but I’m not so much interested in the people as the era, what led up to it, and what really happened. Why? Because what I’m reading, about the Russian Revolution and the Nazi’s in Germany, feels eerily like events unfolding around the world today.

THAT’S the reason I hesitate to dive in again. Last time I did, it felt terrible, like I had watched a scary movie and kept seeing monsters everywhere for weeks. The truth is that the monsters are always around, and they don’t always attack. If we could see clearly which events led exactly to what, we could easily avoid the bad times. One thing doesn’t always lead to another. The world is far more intricate.

I am looking forward to reading this book, but I’m curious what I’ll find, or if I’ll even understand what I’m reading. I read the introduction and preface this morning and already have questions. Everything I’ve seen or read about Trotsky leads me to believe he was a very interesting and deep character. People are rarely evil incarnate. They all have several sides, reasons for what they do, backgrounds and personalities that lead them. This is one person on my list that I’d love to go back and talk to if I had a time machine. I want to see this man for myself, have a cup of tea with him, and ask him a bunch of questions.

He wrote this history of the Russian revolution himself while he was hiding in exile from Stalin. I’m curious what he has to say to me.

Want to read more posts inspired by Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution?
Learning Hooks and Summit Reaches
Am I Turning Into a Revolutionary?
Distracted and Uninspired?
Leading the Movement of the Masses?
A Reading End and A Writing First

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