UK paperback 9 February 1917   US hardback  7 February 2017

Translation rights have been sold to

Netherlands, Brazil, Norway, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Taiwan, Spain, & Portugal

Finnish Edition



Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917 tells the story of the first year of the Russian Revolution using eye-witness accounts

of the foreign nationals at the heart of the war-torn capital.

From the first revolution in February 1917 through to Lenin’s Bolshevik coup that October, chaotic scenes overtook Petrograd.

British, French, American and other foreigners filled the hotels, clubs, bars and embassies in and around fashionable Nevsky Prospekt, the heart of this ‘red madhouse’

It was in the vicinity of this central street that many of the most dramatic disturbances took place. Foreign diplomats, military attaches and their wives; governesses, journalists, businessmen, bankers, volunteer nurses and ex-pat socialites experienced the revolution as it happened on their doorsteps and beneath their windows.

Many people in this extraordinary and highly disparate group penned vivid descriptions in their private diaries and letters home: from the English nurse who survived the Titanic only to end up in Petrograd’s white heat, to the black valet of the American Ambassador to Russia – his semi-literate and highly idiosyncratic letters full of his boss’s bewilderment at having been plucked from the American Deep South and cast adrift into this maelstrom.

Also arriving on the scene was the English suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had travelled to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women’s Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareva.

It is stories and voices such as these that will underpin Helen Rappaport’s compelling, timely and important book.


Narrative history at its very best, communicating the confusion, exhilaration, horror and despair of that momentous year that changed Russia forever.

BBC History Magazine

Thoroughly researched and absorbing … a compelling picture of life in Petrograd in this momentous and often terrible year. I learned a lot from it, and am grateful to the author for providing so much information that was new to me.

The Scotsman

 Illuminating …Historian Helen Rappaport has collected a wonderful array of observations …What makes this book so delightful and enlightening is the depth of incredulity it reveals.

The Times

Rappaport, a noted historian, has proved herself an expert on the country’s tumultuous past …In Caught in the Revolution, Rappaport … brings an absorbing period of history closer to home.

Evening Standard

Rappaport’s fascinating account gives a chilling foretaste of the far worse horrors that were to come.

Sunday Times

Next year's centenary will prompt a raft of books on the Russian Revolution. They will be hard pushed to better this highly original, exhaustively researched and superbly constructed account.'

Daily Telegraph

A vivid account of the city ‘taut as a wire’.  A highly readable and fluent description of the events of 1917 in the capital …Rappaport has unearthed striking new material.’

The Spectator

A dramatic and absorbing narrative .. the author vividly conveys a country in turmoil: mob violence, a desperate populace and the breakdown of civic institutions – indeed, a revolution in progress.

The Catholic Herald

An authentic sense of months of chaos, marked by surging crowds, looted bakeries and outbreaks of gunfire, some seemingly random and some

viciously aimed. … 

Whether they were enthusiasts, sceptics or critics of the revolution, most reporters in Petrograd in 1917 were not participants with tongues and ears but merely eyewitnesses, albeit often with a talent for powerful description. Rappaport chooses their graphic accounts brilliantly.


To make of this sad story – a (or perhaps the) twentieth-century tragedy – and to make of an academic work, full of foot notes and references, a book too fascinating to put down unfinished is a major achievement.

Helen Rappaport should win prizes.

Bookoxygen blog

A gripping first-hand account of the Russian Revolution, as told by those who lived through it.… It manages to be both a serious historical work and a gripping read filled with memorable characters. Helen Rappaport deserved much credit for tracking down the accounts of those involved, many of which were previously unpublished.

The Bookbag blog

A narrative that by turns enthralls and repels, but which is always fascinating .. it will, no doubt, be followed by many others as the centenary of the revolution approached. It will be surprising if any match this one for originality, vividness and a visceral sense of excitement.

Shiny New Books blog

It is the eyewitness accounts … that make the book such compulsive reading …an exciting story that I found impossible to put down.

I Prefer Reading blog



Caught in the Revolution was chosen as on of Best Books for February 1917 by:

Harper's Bazaar

Amazon Com

“Rappaport’s elegantly detailed writing shapes and pulls together excerpts from letters, diaries, articles, and more, quoted throughout, creating the immediacy and energy of history in the making: terrifying, brutal,

and unforgettable.” 


“The most comprehensive compendium to date of non-Russian perspectives across social classes. . . . An engaging if challenging look at a country's collapse with worldwide repercussions. Informed general readers will enjoy this glimpse into history; scholars will declare it a definitive study.” 

Library Journal (starred)

“Rappaport creates a portrait of the Russian Revolution from the points of view of outsiders who happened to be in Petrograd at the time . . .

An undeniably valuable history of the Russian Revolution.” 

Kirkus Reviews

“A multifaceted account of the 1917 Russian Revolution . . . gripping and thoroughly researched . . . [Rappaport brings] the streets and spirit of the early-20th-century Petrograd to life on the page.” 

Harper’s Bazaar

Splendid . . .By confining herself to foreigners in Russia's capital, Rappaport takes a necessarily narrow slice of revolutionary history. But the stories these witnesses tell is endlessly fascinating.”

The New York Times Book Review

One of the great strengths of this book is the way in which the unheralded and the celebrated mingle in its pages . . A mosaic of truth which no fictional one could outdo.”

The Washington Times

in the

US Hardback





UK Hardback








Volunteer English nurses at the Anglo-Russian Hospital watch events in the street below Revolutionaries destroying images of the old tsarist order in February 1917 Revolutionaries in Petrograd during February 1917 Protest march on the Nevsky Prospekt, Petrograd 1917

In conversation about the 1917 Russian Revolution for the US radio news channel The Takeaway.  

For my contribution scroll forward to 7.40

Read my article on why I wanted to write about foreign eyewitnesses in Petrograd and how I researched the book:

Listen to Helen talking about the Russian Revolution on the BBC History Magazine’s podcast.

Her interview follows the discussion

with Catherine Merridale.

See my Q&A on Caught in the Revolution:

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