Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA) – The Hoover Institution Press has published In the Wake of Empire: Anti-Bolshevik Russia in International Affairs, 1917–1920, by Anatol Shmelev, Robert Conquest Curator for Russia and Eurasia at the Hoover Library & Archives.
Based on primary-source information from Hoover’s Russian collections, this account examines how, following the Bolshevik coup of November 1917, the anti-Bolsheviks, or “Whites,” controlled territory in parts of Russia and struggled to carry out their vision for the future of the country.
Shmelev explores how the Whites were able to overcome internal tensions to lobby for recognition on the world stage, only to fail—in part as a result of the West’s desire to leave the “Russian question” to Russians alone.
In the Wake of Empire examines the personalities, institutions, political culture, and geostrategic concerns that shaped the foreign policy of the White movement and anti-Bolshevik governments. Shmelev also provides a psychological study of the factors that ultimately doomed the White effort: the wishful thinking with regard to their own political prospects and an irrational and ill-placed desire that they would receive help from the Allies.
Additionally, Shmelev explains how the Whites’ lack of communications machinery and state apparatus made it impossible to conduct domestic and foreign policy effectively. However, their comprehensive program, embodied by the slogan “Russia—Great, United, and Indivisible,” endured and was resurrected in the politics of Russia’s post-Soviet era. This program, at the heart of White ideology, aspired for Russia to protect its territorial integrity, to restore its pre-1914 borders with the exception of Poland, and to provide local autonomy for national minorities.
“This study aims intentionally to argue that the fight for a ‘Russia—Great, United, and Indivisible’ not only eclipsed the fight against Bolshevism but made the latter struggle untenable,” writes Shmelev.
In the Wake of Empire is available in hardcover and e-book formats. Click here to purchase.
About the Author
Anatol Shmelev is a research fellow and Robert Conquest Curator for Russia and Eurasia at the Hoover Institution. His area of specialization is the Russian Civil War, 1917–22.
Acclaim for In the Wake of Empire
“Anatol Shmelev has succeeded in making an important contribution to the study of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War. On the basis of extraordinarily thorough research and the wide use of primary sources, he is the first to discuss the foreign policies of the White Movement. He demonstrates that although the diplomats who served the White cause had a weak hand to play, nevertheless they remained faithful to the cause of a united, powerful Russia, ready to play a significant part in European diplomacy.”
—Peter Kenez, professor emeritus, University of California–Santa Cruz
“Based on exhaustive archival research and engagingly presented, Shmelev's study is a tour de force that unravels the complex and tragic story of the Russian diplomats stranded abroad by the Bolshevik revolution. The account traces their failed attempt to defend age-old Russian interests at the post–Great War peace conferences, in the face of fracture and civil war in Russia on one hand, and their erstwhile allies’ deep suspicions and skepticism of the re-creation of a ‘great’ Russia which no longer existed.”
—David McDonald, Alice D. Mortenson-Petrovich Distinguished Chair in Russian History, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“Many have told the story about how Russians fought their civil war on the battlefield, but their momentous struggles at the Paris peace talks of 1919 have been unjustly ignored. Engagingly written, erudite, and encyclopedic in scope, In the Wake of Empire will likely prove to be the definitive study in any language of the ‘other Russia’s’ ultimately doomed attempt to retain great power status. Shmelev's archival research is nothing short of herculean.”
—David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, professor of Russian history, Brock University
“Though exhaustive multiarchival research, impeccable scholarship, and compelling analysis, Anatol Shmelev has written the authoritative account of anti-Bolshevik Russia's foreign policies during three tumultuous years of revolution, civil war, and foreign intervention. By illuminating a neglected aspect of a doomed cause, In the Wake of Empire invites the thought that victors may write history, but losers have more interesting things to say.”
—John J. Stephan, professor of history emeritus, University of Hawaii
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