1919–1920: St. Petersburg, city of the czars, has fallen to the Revolution. Camped out in the splendid palaces of the former regime, the city’s new masters seek to cement their control, even as the counterrevolutionary White Army regroups. Conquered City, Victor Serge’s most unrelenting narrative, is structured like a detective story, one in which the new political regime tracks down and eliminates its enemies—the spies, speculators, and traitors hidden among the mass of common people.
Conquered City is about terror: the Red Terror and the White Terror. But mainly about the Red, the Communists who have dared to pick up the weapons of power—police, guns, jails, spies, treachery—in the doomed gamble that by wielding them righteously, they can put an end to the need for terror, perhaps forever. Conquered City is their tragedy and testament.
Conquered City by Victor Serge
NYRB Classics 2011