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11 January 2017: Zed Books is selling the e-book version for 80% off - just £2.20 - for the next 8 days. Details here.
28 December 2017: Eric Lee's article on the legacy of the Georgian Democratic Republic appears in EuropeNow.
27 November 2017: Eric Lee's article "Another revolution was possible" appears in OpenDemocracy
3 November 2017: Dr Samantha Lomb of the The New Books Network interviewed Eric Lee for 48 minutes about the book.
22 October 2017: The New York Times Book Review reviews the book.
13 October 2017: Eric Lee is interviewed for 30 minutes by Ian Williams on the Catskill Review of Books radio show.
18 September 2017: Historia magazine publishes author Eric Lee's account of how and why he wrote the book.
15 September 2017: Official date of publication. Author Eric Lee addresses the congress of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, Tbilisi. You can read his talk here.
14 September 2017: Launch party in Tbilisi at Prospero's Books. Read author Eric Lee's talk here.
4 September 2017: Zed Books publishes this blog by author Eric Lee, introducing the subject of the first Georgian republic.
3 September 2017: The Bookseller, the British weekly magazine for bookshops and the publishing industry, has named THE EXPERIMENT as one of the best book cover designs for September.
5 March 2018: 18:00 Book launch at the Houses of Parliament in London, sponsored by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia and the Georgian Embassy in the UK. More details coming soon.
5 April 2018: 18:00-19:00 Eric Lee discusses Georgia at a Henry Jackson Society Event in London. Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP. More details coming soon.
23 April 2018: Eric Lee to speak at Pushkin House, London. More details coming soon.
12 May 2018: Eric Lee will speak at an event at Oliver Wardrop's home in Sevenoaks on the subject of Britain and Georgia. More details coming soon.
24-30 June 2018: Eric Lee will speak at an international conference in Tbilisi, Georgia to mark the 100th anniversary of Georgian independence. More details coming soon.
For many, the Russian revolution of 1917 was a symbol of hope, and proof that that another world was indeed possible. But Soviet authoritarianism and the horrors of the gulags have since led to the revolution becoming synonymous with oppression, forever tainting socialism in the eyes of its critics.
The experience of Georgia, however, which declared its independence from Russia in 1918, shows there was another way. In this riveting book, historian Eric Lee explores the little-known story of the country's experiment in democratic socialism, detailing the turbulent events of this forgotten chapter in revolutionary history. Along the way, we are introduced to a remarkable cast of characters - among them the men and women who strove for a vision of socialism that featured universal suffrage, a people's militia in place of a standing army, and a civil society grounded in trade unions and cooperatives.
Though the Georgian Democratic Republic lasted for just three years before it was brutally crushed on the orders of Stalin, it was able to offer, however briefly, a glimpse of a more humane alternative to the Communist nightmare that was to come.
Eric Lee is a journalist and historian who has spent over thirty years researching independent Georgia, and has himself been active in trade union and political struggles in both the US and UK. His previous works include Saigon to Jerusalem: Conversations with Israel's Vietnam Veterans (1993) and Operation Basalt: The British Raid on Sark and Hitler's Commando Order (2016).
Total number of reviews on this page: 26
Verso Books has reprinted Owen Hatherley's piece from the New Socialist (see below), here
"Lee’s The Experiment is both a good read and basically a good history, though in my view he fails at his defense of Menshevism." - Dan LaBotz A critical review of the book in New Politics
"Eric Lee’s superb history of the little told story of the attempt to establish a form of social democracy in the unlikely rural backwater of Georgia ... This book, written with transparent prose, shines much new light on an neglected story." - Justin Reynolds Top 10 books of 2017
"Eric Lee's book is excellent. He has made an obscure, if important, moment in history come alive in a very readable book. Even though you know "whodunit" before you start the book, those three years are a fascinating story." - Jim Baker Read the full 5 star review on Amazon.com
"Despite its name, the Russian Revolution was not just a Russian phenomenon. Journalist and historian Eric Lee tells one of these non-Russian stories in his Georgia's Forgotten Revolution ... Lee's book describes the major figures of this beguiling political experiment, and how their politics was an alternative to the Bolshevik authoritarianism emerging in neighbouring Russia." - Howard Amos Read the full review in The Calvert Journal, which named The Experiment as one of the "best centennial books on 1917 from this year you should read"
"Although Lee's The Experiment is strongly pro-Menshevik and not always convincing, it is an informative book about an interesting experiment during a turbulent period." - Ron Blom Read the full review in DUTCH in socialisme.nu - de linkste site van Nederland
A very positive review of the book in KOREAN From Pressian
"But the brute fact of the Georgian Democratic Republic remains, testament to a course that a different Revolution might have taken, an alternative future that perhaps could have been. And, as Eric Lee writes in The Experiment, his vivid history of the Republic, there is 'something terribly poignant in the image of Georgia’s Constituent Assembly holding its final meeting in Batumi on the Black Sea coast. With the Red Army only hours away, and the Georgian government rushing to board ships that would take them into exile, the Georgian Social Democrats were keen to complete their legacy'." - Justin Reynolds Read the full review in THE NEW EUROPEAN
"One of the most important books coming from the democratic Left in a long time" - Roy Nitzberg Read the five star review on Amazon.com
"Thank you for sharing your knowledge, passion and, yes, vision. Only 5 stars, really? It’s worth 10." - Michael Chai Read the five star review on Amazon.com
"One of the few genuinely original books on the Russian Revolution and its aftermath that has emerged in 2017." - John Medhurst Read the five star review on Amazon.com
"Eric Lee's mischievous new book, argues that the Georgian Menshevik republic was an alternative to the Bolshevik-led workers’ government, which came to power in October 1917. This is absolute fantasy, which confuses discussion of working-class politics at the time and the importance of the Russian revolution for today’s class struggles. ... Menshevism was the programme of self-limiting defeat. Trotsky was right to consign it to the dustbin of history." - Paul Vernadsky Read the very critical review in SOLIDARITY Read my rebuttal published in SOLIDARITY a week later
"Eric Lee tries to unveil the roots and main characteristics of Georgian social-democracy which is still unknown for many in the west. This hidden period of the history of Caucasian countries is extremely interesting ... The work describes collisions of so many interests in the region and the way Georgian idealists acted at the time of a great warfare. All these is managed in a very simple and readable manner. The book is highly recommended for those interested in the modern histories of Georgia, Caucasus, Russia and East Europe." - Georg A. Read the five star review on Amazon.de
"Thoroughly documented and brilliantly explained" - Bernard Stern Read the five star review on Amazon.com
"Lee provides a fascinating account of what the country briefly looked like under Menshvik rule and how this compared to the regime established by Georgia’s most famous son, Stalin" - Samantha Lomb Read the review in EUROPE NOW
"Simply for telling this obscure story well, Lee's book is of great value ... a fascinating book" - Owen Hatherley Read the review in THE NEW SOCIALIST (UK)
"Stirred by his long fascination with Georgia’s history, Lee has written an account of that country’s short-lived experiment as a democratic socialist republic after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 ... As Lee reminds us, this Menshevik-dominated government backed free elections, freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, parliamentary rule and free trade unions." - Joshua Rubinstein Read the review in THE NEW YORK TIMES
"I strongly recommend every political activist read this profoundly useful work of history." - Larry Gulotta Read the five star review on Amazon.com
"This is an important book. It is the first study in English of the Menshevik government in Georgia between 1918 and 1921." - Duncan Bowie, writing in THE CHARTIST (September-October 2017)
"Eric Lee, thank you for sharing your knowledge & enthusiasm in such a readable way." David Shai Read the review on Amazon.co.uk
A "well-written window into revolutionary Georgia."- S.E. Slye Read the five star review on Amazon.co.uk
"A fascinating account of a little-known experiment in social democracy." - Roger Darlington Read the five star review on Amazon.co.uk
"Covering a crucial but strangely overlooked period in the fevered evolution of socialism, we've been waiting for this book for a long time. Fortunately, it arrives excellently written and researched." - Peter Nasmyth, author of Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry
"In a clear and succinct style, Eric Lee paints a sympathetic portrait of this remarkable experiment in democratic socialism. Lee has brought this almost unknown story out of the shadows, giving it its proper place in the historiography of socialism and the Russian Revolution." - Stephen Jones, author of Socialism in Georgian Colors
"A sympathetic, lucidly written and politically literate account of the first Georgian republic, which makes exhaustive use of the accounts of foreign observers as well as some of the major leading figures." - Donald Rayfield, author of Stalin and His Hangmen
"Eric Lee has skilfully shown in this thoroughly-researched book how a century ago Georgia created the first democratic socialist republic -- and laid the basis for Georgian democracy today." - H.E. Ambassador Tamar Beruchashvili, Ambassador of Georgia to the United Kingdom
Eric Lee's older writings on Georgia