China Miéville’s novelistic account of the Russian Revolution, written for its centenary, shares a title—but not a subtitle—with the 1928 film that Sergei Eisenstein made to mark its ten-year anniversary. For its international release, Eisenstein’s film was retitled Ten Days That Shook the World, a name borrowed from the most famous English-language account of the revolution: the American journalist John Reed’s eyewitness report (1919, with a foreword by Vladimir Lenin). A certain implicit history of the last century is conveyed just by comparing Reed’s title with Miéville’s. Though nearly a hundred years apart, the two authors have in common a clear and pronounced ideological sympathy with the Bolsheviks, which may strike many readers as the most provocative or unusual thing about Miéville’s work. Miéville states clearly from the outset that he writes from a place of partisan attachment to the revolutionary...

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