Ten Days That Shook the World

Source: John Reed, Ten Days That Shook the World (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1919), pp. 59-60

Text: The city was nervous, starting at every sharp sound. But still no sign from the Bolsheviki; the soldiers stayed in the barracks, the workmen in the factories … We went to a moving picture show near the Kazan Cathedral – a bloody Italian film of passion and intrigue. Down front were some soldiers and sailors, staring at the screen in childlike wonder, totally unable to comprehend why there should be so much violent running about, and so much homicide …

Comments: John Reed (1887-1920) was an American journalist and socialist whose first-hand account of the Russian Revolution of October 1917 in Ten Days That Shook the World is one of the most vivid and closely-observed accounts of the epoch-making events. It served at the inspiration for Sergei Eisenstein’s film October (USSR 1928) and John Reed’s story was told in the film Reds (USA 1981) with Reed played by Warren Beatty. The city referred to here is Petrograd, now St Petersburg. The period is just before the fall of the Russian Provisional Government and the takeover by the Bolsheviks.