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John Rees – 5 novels every revolutionary should read

Some of the best pieces of fiction ever written about revolutionary experience are outlined by writer and historian John Rees

When I first started to research the Levellers I had it in mind that I might write a kind of collective biography of Leveller activists. I thought of two previous models. One came from the 17th century itself, John Aubrey’s Brief Lives. This is a kind of compendium of short literary biographies of public figures from the century of revolution, written with a gossip’s eye and plenty of verve. His account of the remarkable Leveller ally and MP, Henry Marten, is a joy to read and re-read.

The second was by Anatoly Lunacharsky, who held the brilliantly named post of Commissar of the Enlightenment in the Russian Revolutionary government of 1917. His Revolutionary Silhouettes is a series of pen portraits of some of the main figures of the Russian Revolution by a highly gifted writer and humane observer of people made extraordinary by extraordinary events.

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