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News

News

9 March 2018: Sean's Russian Blog posts a 40 minute long interview with Eric Lee about the first Georgian republic.

6 March 2018: Book launch held in the Houses of Parliament in London, organised by the Georgian Embassy in the UK and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia. Here is the account of the event in Georgia Today.

20 February 2018: Britain's venerable Fabian Society, two of whose leaders visited democratic socialist Georgia, has just published Eric Lee's article on "the most perfect socialism in Europe".

19 February 2018: You can order copies of the Esperanto edition of The Experiment in many countries - see here - scroll to bottom of the page. We're currently showing 16 online bookstores where you can order the book.

30 January 2018: The Esperanto language edition of the book - the first translation into a foreign language - is due to appear later this week. The publisher is MAS. Details on how to order the book coming soon.

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.

Events

Events

25 April 2018: 17:00-18:00 Book launch - Georgian edition - at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi. Details here.

26 April 2018: 19:00-21:00Book discussion at Ilia University in Tbilisi. Details here.

1 May 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.

19 May 2018: 12:00 - 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.

8 June 2018: 19:00 Eric Lee will speak about the Georgian Republic in Esperanto, at the London Esperanto Club. More details coming soon.

13 June 2018: Eric Lee to speak at Housman's Bookshop in London. 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.

About

About

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.

Author

Author

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).

To contact the author:

Email - ericlee@labourstart.org

Phone - +44 (0)7 846 658 571

Post - Suite 504, 394 Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 1DJ, U.K.

Reviews

Reviews

Total number of reviews on this page: 38

"Very interesting reading" Antonio Polanco in a five-star review on Amazon.com

"Lee's book was interesting in general. I was entirely ignorant of this period and I found it really inspiring. I would strongly recommend it." From a review in The Socialist Entrepreneur

"These two volumes, anarchist and social-democratic in orientation, provide critically important perspectives for understanding the myriad failures of the Russian Revolution. Both perspectives rightly repudiate the goal of establishing State capitalism through dictatorship." Javier Sethness reviewing The Experiment and another title for Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

"Must-read book for everyone interested in that period of Georgia's history, which, regrettably, is less known even in Georgia." GiS in a five-star review on Amazon.com

"Finished reading The Experiment by @erictlee about the short lived Georgia Socialist Republic and their struggle to find a way other than Bolshevism or Capitalism. Easy to read and follow and starts to fill in a gap I didn't even know I had." Rosa Angelone on Twitter

"Отличная книга об истории Грузинской Демократической Республики, ведущую роль в политической жизни которой играла местная социал-демократическая партия. Автор книги Эрик Ли - известный профсоюзный активист и писатель, редактор портала LabourStart, занимающегося международными кампаниями в защиту трудовых и профсоюзных прав." - Alexander Nurik on Pintaram

"Todo el mundo conoce la historia de la Revolución Rusa de 1917. Pero menos personas sabrán de la notable historia de una revolución en Georgia que tuvo lugar junto a esto, que fue una exploración del socialismo democrático y una economía cooperativa. Esta es una laguna que Eric Lee, escritor y distinguido activista sindical, completa en su libro The Experiment." - Spanish version of Ed Mayo's review (see below) from a coop movement website in Chile

"Everyone knows the story of the Russian Revolution of 1917. But fewer people will know of the remarkable story of a revolution in Georgia that took place alongside this, which was an exploration of democratic socialism and a co-operative economy. This is a gap that Eric Lee, writer and distinguished trade union activist, fills in his book The Experiment." Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, in a review for Coop News

"Eric Lee explains how Georgia created a social democratic republic which had the support of the whole population ... The last chapter describes what this ideal social democracy could have been. It makes a heartrending read. " - Elisso Tarassachvili (daughter of Serge Tarassachvili, the student leader of the 1924 insurrection in Georgia and granddaughter of Vassili Tsouladzé, first secretary of the Georgian Social Democratic Party) writing for The FORUM, the magazine of the Scotland-Russia Forum - Warning: downloads a big PDF file

"A truly well written and informative book, free of bias. A must read for all Georgians and anyone interested in that period of history." - Redjeb Jordania (son of the President of the Georgian Democratic Republic)

"Eric Lee has produced a compelling account of this little-known episode, setting it in the overall context of the divisions within the Socialist movement as a result of the first world war. He provides a lot of insight into the very different path that the Georgian Mensheviks took as a socialist party ruling over a country not at all ready for socialism. Much of it - especially the section on cooperatives - has a very contemporary feel, and I rather think that John McDonnell would benefit from reading some of the chapters." - Jeremy Green in a five-star review on Amazon.co.uk

"Eric Lee has written a remarkable book, The Experiment, which tells the history of the First Georgian Republic. ... It does, however, do more than that. By placing the Georgian experiment in its historical and international context, it gives us important insights into the nature of nation-building, socialism, Stalinism, and even contemporary Russia." - Dan Gallin writing in Dissent

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

Resources

Resources

Above - a selection of postage stamps from the Democratic Republic of Georgia.

Eric Lee's older writings on Georgia