Serge's tale begins in the spring of 1917, the third year of mass slaughter in the trenches of WWI. When the flames of revolution suddenly erupt in Russia and Spain, Europe is burning at both ends.' Although the Spanish uprising eventually fizzles, in Russia the workers, peasants and common soldiers are able to take power and hold it. Serge's 'tale of two cities' is constructed from the opposition between Barcelona, the city 'we' could t take, and Petrograd, the starving, beleaguered capital of the Russian Revolution besieged by counter-revolutionary Whites.'
Victor Serge was a Russian revolutionary and writer. Originally an anarchist, he joined the Bolsheviks five months after arriving in Petrograd in January 1919 and later worked for the Comintern as a journalist, editor, and translator. He is the author of seven novels, including Birth of Our Power, Conquered City, and Men in Prison, and the history, Year One of the Russian Revolution. He was critical of the Stalinist regime and remained a revolutionary Marxist until his death. Richard Greeman is the translator and prefacer of five of Victor Serge's seven novels, most recently Men in Prison. He is a founding member of the libertarian socialist Praxis Center in Moscow and secretary of the Victor Serge Foundation, which supports the Victor Serge Libraries in Moscow and Kiev and underwrites translations and publication of Serge's books in Russian and Arabic. He has published literary, political, and biographical studies of Serge in English, French, Russian, and Spanish as well as prefaces to French editions of Serge's books. He lives in New York City.