The Degaev Affair by Richard Pipes
LATE-I9TH-CENTURY Russian revolutionaries became a by- word for terrorism in much of the world. Self-declared socialists and Marxists, they were utopian in out- look but nihilist in method. The murder of the czar and a few of his advisers, they had convinced them- selves, was the necessary prelude to remaking autocratic Russia into a society of perfect justice and equal- ity. The end justified the unlimited violence of the means. At a wide re- move from reality, the revolution- aries lived in a seething atmosphere of messianism and murder, conspir- acy and self-deception, to which only novelists of the stature of Fy- odor Dostoevsky (in The Possessed) and Joseph Conrad could do justice.
About the Author
David Pryce-Jones, the British novelist and political analyst, is the author of, among other books, Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews (Encounter).