General William V. Judson was Military Attache and Chief of the American Military Mission in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. His letters, memoranda and reports constitute an eye-witness account of war and revolutionary conditions under the Provisional and Bolshevik Governments of Russia after the February Uprising and abdication of Czar Nicholas II and the initiation of US-Soviet relations. Judson's overriding task was to keep Russia in the war against Germany. His official communications pay particular attention to the organization and battle-readiness of the Russian Army. Published here is Judson's documentation of his December 1, 1917 meeting with Trotsky, the first official face-to-face discussions between a leader of the Bolshevik government and a diplomatic representative of the US government. Notable as well in this volume are Judson's analyses of the role of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies and the Kornilov Uprising. The collection concludes with some of his observations on revolutionary Russia and US-Soviet relations after his return to the States in February 1918. Judson was convinced of the necessity of direct discussions and negotiations between the US and the Trotsky-Lenin government following the Revolution. However, President Wilson and the three Republican administrations that succeeded him chose a different course. The publication of these papers should contribute to our understanding of both the Revolution and the American struggle to find an appropriate policy to guide relations with Bolshevik Russia.
Neil V. Salzman is a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is the author of Reform and Revolution: The Life and Times of Raymond Robins (Kent State University Press, 1991).