"They all admit that an unheard-of catastrophe is inevitable. But they do not understand the main thing—that only the revolutionary class can save the country."

Anatoly Lunacharsky's Revolutionary Silhouettes, based on the author's personal recollections, contain valuable information on the leaders of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

On the morning of 30 December 1916, the people of Petrograd woke up to the news that the infamous priest Gregori Rasputin had been killed with poison. Rasputin was a charlatan, drunkard and serial-womaniser of upper class wives and daughters, but most importantly he was the closest adviser to the royal couple.

The First World War was becoming a catastrophe for Russia. From the front line there was news of defeat after defeat. The breakdown of the economy produced a shortage of bread. Crowds of half-starved and desperate women queued outside shops for bread that never arrived. But at the top of Russian society things were very different.

"If you want to do more than merely complain about the counter-revolution, if you want to fight it, you must join us in saying: Down with the ten capitalist Ministers!"