Russian Statesman. Described by Bernard Levin as "the man who overthrew the Tsars, and was himself overthrown by Lenin", he was born in Simbirsk, the son of a headmaster. He studied law at the University of St. Petersburg, where he joined the populist revolutionary movement known as the Narodniki. After his graduation in 1904, he joined the Socialist Revolutionary party and became a prominent lawyer, often defending revolutionaries who were accused of political offences. In 1912, he was elected to the fourth Duma as the Trudovski, or Labour Group, delegate for Volsk, in Saratov Province. He supported Russia's participation in the First World War, but not the Czarist Government's handling of the war and, when the February Revolution of 1917 broke out, he was one of the first to call for a republic. In the new government, he became the Vice-Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, and also the Minister of Labour in the Duma, the only person to belong to both these institutions. In May, he became the Minister of War and Minister for the Navy, and was responsible for the disastrous June Offensive (July 1st., New Style) in which the Russian Army attacked the Austro-German forces in Galicia and pushed towards Lvov. This was successful at first but, after a few days, the soldiers refused to leave their trenches and fight, and the Austrians and Germans launched a counter-offensive through Galicia into the Ukraine, as far as the Zbruch River. In July, despite this failure, Alexander Kerensky became Prime Minister. However, he managed to alienate both the moderates and the officers by his dismissal of General Kornilov, and the socialists by refusing to implement their reforms. When the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution (November in the New Style), he was unable to marshal enough forces to defend his government. He remained in hiding until May 1918, when he escaped, first to England and then to France, where he devoted himself to writing books on the Revolution and editing expatriate publications. In 1940, he moved to the United States where, from 1956, he taught at Stanford University. Although he died in New York City, he is buried in South London.
Bio by: Iain MacFarlaine