The Moderate Bolshevik

Mikhail Tomsky from The Factory to The Kremlin, 1880-1936


This first English-language biography of Mikhail Tomsky reveals his central role in all the key developments in early Soviet history, including the stormy debates over the role of unions in the self-proclaimed workers’ state. Charters Wynn’s compelling account illuminates how the charismatic Tomsky rose from an impoverished working-class background and years of tsarist prison and Siberian exile to become both a Politburo member and the head of the trade unions, where he helped shape Soviet domestic and foreign policy along generally moderate lines throughout the 1920s. His failed attempt to block Stalin’s catastrophic adoption of forced collectivization would tragically make Tomsky a prime target in the Great Purges.

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Charters Wynn, PhD (1987) Stanford University, is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. The American Historical Association awarded his book, Workers, Strikes, and Pogroms: The Donbass-Dnepr Bend in Late Imperial Russia, 1870-1905 (Princeton University Press, 1992), the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize.
"This book fills an important gap in the scholarly literature on the Stalin period. [...] This is an excellent, deeply researched, and well-written book that will be required reading for those interested in Soviet history and will be useful for others in labor history."

---- J. Arch Getty, in: The Russian Review (2023).
List of Illustrations

 1 Note on Transliteration

1 The Making of a Moderate Working-Class Bolshevik Leader

2 Balancing Act: Tomsky during War Communism and the Trade-Union Debate

3 Detour East: From Disgraced Exile in Tashkent to Redemption inside the Kremlin

4 Getting Together Then Falling Apart: Tomsky and British Trade Unionists

5 Tomsky during NEP: Trade Unions and the Intra-Party Struggle

6 NEP’s Last Stand: The Eighth Trade-Union Congress

7 Tomsky Outcast: Tormenting a ‘Right Deviationist’


The readership will be university libraries with Russian history and biography collections and faculty and graduate students in the United States and Russia doing research or coursework on Soviet history.
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