Richard Pipes's authoritative history of the "violent and disruptive acts" that created the first modern totalitarian regime portrays the crisis at the heart of the tsarist empire. Drawing on archival materials newly released in Russia, he chronicles the upheaval that began as a conservative revolt but was soon captured by messianic intellectuals intent not merely on reforming Russia but on remaking the world. He provides fresh accounts of the revolution's personalities and policies, crises, and cruelties, from the murder of the royal family through civil war, famine, and state terror. Brilliantly and persuasively, Pipes shows us why the resulting system owes less to the theories of Marx than it did to the character of Lenin and Russia's long authoritarian tradition. What ensues is a path-clearing work that is indispensable to any understanding of the events of the century.