From its revolutionary inception in 1917, to its counter-revolutionary demise in 1991, the Red Army played a crucial role in all aspects of Soviet life. This text places the Soviet army into its true social, political and international contexts. Focusing on the Bolshevik Party's intention to create an army of a new type, the army's aim was both to defend the people and propagate Marxist ideals to the rest of the world. Lenin believed that this new people's army would be a tool for social transformation and cohesion. However, this text demonstrates that by the end of the Cold War and collapse of the USSR in 1991, Russian society once again saw their army as the elitist and callous organization which its Bolshevik founders had tried so hard to avoid.
This account of the Soviet military experience includes discussion of: the origins of the Workers and Peasants Red Army; the effects of the Civil War; the Bolshevik regime's use of the military as a school of socialism; the effects of collectivization and rapid industrialization of the 1920s and 1930s; World War II and its profound repercussions; the ethnic tensions within the army; and the effect of Gorbachev's policies of "Glasnost" and "Perestroika". The text is organized chronologically and thematically within chapters, and includes a comprehensive bibliography.