10 ways to start a revolution

Justin Pollard offers the would-be revolutionaries among you some light-hearted advice on how to lead an uprising – using everyone from Lenin to a bunch of Dutch desperadoes as examples. Plus, he has some handy illustrations of what not to do if you'd far prefer to maintain the status quo

A 1950s illustration of Vladimir Lenin on the sealed train between Switzerland and Russian. (Alamy)

This article was first published in the June 2008 issue of BBC History Magazine 


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The Russian February Revolution of 1917 left Lenin stuck in neutral Switzerland at a time when getting home was problematic. Firstly there was a war going on in which Germany and Russia were enemies, something which would normally preclude taking a train trip between the two countries. Secondly, although Germany desperately wanted Lenin to return home and use his influence to make Russia withdraw from the war, what would happen if his Marxist ideas infected Germany en route and the people ended up, like the Russians, thinking this was all a bit of an aristocratic, ruling class disaster?

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