Alexander Rabinowitch

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Alexander Rabinowitch (born 30 August 1934) is an American historian. He is Professor Emeritus of History at the Indiana University, Bloomington, where he taught from 1968 until 1999, and Affiliated Research Scholar at the St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences, since 2013. He is recognized internationally as a leading expert on the Bolsheviks, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Russian Civil War.[1]

Early life[edit]

Alexander Rabinowitch and his brother Victor were born in London in 1934 to Russian actress Anya Rabinowitch and her husband, the scientist and author Eugene Rabinowitch.[2] The family emigrated to the United States in 1938, when Eugene took a position at MIT.[2]

Alexander received his B.A. at Knox College, 1956; M.A. at the University of Chicago, 1961; and Ph.D. at Indiana University, 1965.[3]


Upon publication, his best-known book, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (1976), was widely acclaimed by Western scholars as a major breakthrough in study of the Russian Revolution.[4] Initially, it was fiercely attacked by Soviet historians for its violation of mandatory canon. In 1989, during Gorbachev's perestroika, it became the first Western scholarly investigation of the Russian revolution to be published in the Soviet Union. Based on wide-ranging empirical research, the book stresses broad popular support for the Bolshevik program calling for peace, land, and bread and transfer of power to the soviets, as well as the party's tolerance of diverse views and its decentralized organizational structure in explaining its successful accession to power in October. Scholars in other disciplines took notice. According to Professor Victoria Bunnell in the American Journal of Sociology, "the sociologist whose interest lie in the fields of revolution, social movements, and labor policy will find...[it] highly valuable."[5] According to Professor Paul M. Johnson in The American Political Science Review, the book represents, "important new contributions to the literature....Solidly grounded in the traditional historiography...[making] judicious use of the valuable materials that became accessible during the Khrushchev era."[6]

In 2007, following decades of archival research and writing, Rabinowitch published The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd. This study was praised by Western and Russian reviewers alike.[7] Rabinowitch set for himself the twin goals of explaining how the Bolshevik party was relatively quickly "transformed into one of the most highly centralized authoritarian political organizations in modern history" and the rapidity with which the grass-roots egalitarian ideals that contributed immeasurably to its effectiveness in the struggle for power in 1917 Russia were subverted.[8]

From 1975 to 1984 Rabinowitch was Director of the Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University. From 1986 to 1993 he was Dean for International Programs at Indiana University. His many doctoral students teach at colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad. A Festschrift honoring Rabinowitch, prepared by his former graduate students, appeared in 2012 (Michael S. Melancon and Donald J. Raleigh, eds., Russia's Century of Revolutions: Parties, People, Places, Studies Presented in Honor of Alexander Rabinowitch). Rabinowitch has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Fulbright-Hays, IREX, Guggenheim Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He has been a Senior Fellow of the Harriman Institute, Columbia University; the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; and the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and was elected a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Prelude to Revolution The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising by Alexander Rabinowitch and 6 Illustrations 1 Map (Hardcover - 1968)
  • The Soviet Union Since Stalin by Stephen F. Cohen and Alexander Rabinowitch and Robert Sharlet (Paperback - 1980)
  • Prelude to Revolution (A Midland Book, Mb 661) by Alexander Rabinowitch (Paperback - Aug 1, 1991)
  • Russia in the Era of NEP (Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and Eastern European Studies) by Sheila Fitzpatrick, Alexander Rabinowitch, and Richard Stites (Paperback - Sep 1, 1991)
  • Politics and society in Petrograd, 1917-1920: The bolsheviks, the lower classes, and Soviet power, Petrograd, February 1917 - July 1918 by Alexander Rabinowitch (Unknown Binding - 1993)
  • The Bolsheviks Come To Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd by Alexander Rabinowitch (Hardcover - Jun 1, 2004)
  • The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd by Alexander Rabinowitch (Hardcover - Sep 30, 2007)[9]
  • The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd by Alexander Rabinowitch (Paperback - July 17, 2008)


  1. ^ Nimtz, August H. (2020). "Electoral and Parliamentary Politics: Are Marx, Engels and Lenin Still Relevant?". Science & Society. 84 (3): 401–410.
  2. ^ a b Rabinowitch, Alexander (2005). "Founder and father". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 61 (1): 30–37. doi:10.2968/061001009.
  3. ^ Rabinowitch, Alexander (2021). "Stephen F. Cohen (1938–2020)". Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 22 (2): 430–442.
  4. ^ Willimott, Andy (2020). "9 'Read all about it!'". Reading Russian Sources: A Student's Guide to Text and Visual Sources from Russian History.
  5. ^ Bunnell, Victoria E. (1978). "Review". American Journal of Sociology. 84 (2): 492.
  6. ^ Johnson, Paul M. (March 1979). "Review". The American Political Science Review. 73 (1 Review): 287.
  7. ^ Gennadi Leont'evich Sobolev, "PERVYI GOD BOL'SHEVISTSKOI VLASTI V ISSLEDOVANII AMERIKANSKOGO ISTORIKA" ['The first year of Bolshevik power in a description by an American historian'] Voprosy Istorii (2008), Issue 9, p162-166.
  8. ^ Rabinowitch, Alexander (2007). The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd. Indiana University Press. pp. X.
  9. ^ "The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd". Foreign Affairs. 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rabinowitch, Alexander. "Stephen F. Cohen (1938–2020)." Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 22.2 (2021): 430-442. [ excerpt]

External links[edit]