Revolution from Within is the story of determination, unlikely partnerships, and concepts that are increasingly relevant worldwide.  Freedom, creativity, and compassion sit at the heart of this book as the author ties the events from more than a century ago back to parallels occurring today.

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“I liked the combination of great history, compelling ideas, and fascinating characters. I was intrigued to find out about these ideas on Russian spiritual philosophy, and the individuals—The 160—and how they were influenced by YMCA. Overall, this is an astounding and little-known story about a remarkable moment in time—about two or three years in the early 20s when an extraordinary conflux of historical events, outstanding individuals, and big ideas came together to help lay the groundwork for one of the greatest historical events of the 20th century—the fall of Communism. Wow!”

— Beth Haddon, journalist and former broadcast executive of the CBC, Toronto. Jan 20, 2014

“I think that Revolution from Within represents an incredibly thorough, well researched, comprehensive treatise on the critical of role of the YMCA with respect to Russia’s struggle for liberation from the Bolshevik tyranny and the writings of the 160. While I have always been keenly interested in Russian History, along with the demise of the Soviet Union, until I read this work I was completely unaware of the integral and vital part played by the YMCA in this quest for freedom. I also was unaware of many of the nuances as it relates to differences of perspective between Lenin and Stalin regarding the pace of expulsion of ideas and banishing members of the intelligentsia. I had no idea that it was Lenin, rather than Stalin, who preserved all these writing in his secret library. Also had no idea of the power and reach of the YMCA press. That was stunning information. I also was not aware of the diversity of the 160.

I had no idea that the YMCA had played such a pivotal role in Russia and other nations with respect to political transformation and its evolution into such a prominent and seemingly health focused organization was fascinating.”

— Lisa Moore, the Moore Firm, January 31, 2014

“Throughout its 160+ history, the YMCA has been an organization of passionate and compassionate people uplifting the common good and upholding truth, character and social justice. YMCA Press was established in the U.S. and abroad to share information and expertise among Ys and to publish books which contribute to the making of Christian character.

When 160 of Russia’s most promising intellectuals were exiled, YMCA Director Dr. John Mott and the YMCA Press supported their continuing development of ideas and philosophy. The Y was committed to preserving the individual freedom of Russia’s leading spiritual philosophers along with their culture, education and literature.

From the Bolshevik Revolution to the fall of the Soviet Union, Revolution From Within tells a true story of intrigue, politics, religion, and uncertainty. A committed group of Y professionals risked their lives and livelihoods to preserve Russian culture, ideas, faith, and beliefs. In doing so, they provided relief, morale, hope, and encouragement to Russians who remained in the U.S.S.R. and to two million émigrés throughout Europe.

Baird’s research details the Y’s involvement in the war for spiritual, economic, political, and religious freedom during a time when it was unthinkable.”

— Kristen Obaranec, YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta, November 30, 2014

Revolution from Within by Catherine Baird tells the tale of the little Protestant organization that could.

Faced with adversity at every corner the American Young Men’s Christian Association has for well over 100 years found ingenious ways to pursue the goals of its Russian work. Baird provides thorough context behind the formation of the Russian YMCA, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the development of the various scholarly communities the YMCA sought to serve.

Unlikely partners, the YMCA and the Intelligentsia of the Russian diaspora collaborated to continue a thread of Russian thought that was divergent from the Soviet line. The story of the creation and eventual repatriation of this intellectual gift is harrowing, heartwarming and should serve as inspiration for those in pursuit of big ideas.”

— Ryan Bean, Reference and Outreach Archivist, Kautz Family YMCA Archives-University of Minnesota Libraries, December 24, 2014

Revolution From Within is a fascinating read!

This book gives wonderful insight into the events surrounding the expulsion of many of the great Russian philosophers but also allows us to see “inside” the psyche of a nation. Wonderfully researched, well written it is a narrative that is a must read for history buffs of the Russian Revolution time period. Who knew the YMCA, a place Americans just view as a workout spot, was such an integral part of the 160.

—  JJ Green, Amazon Reviews, February 4, 2015

Russian Intrigue

What intrigue! What fascination. I work out at the local YMCA and it seems distant miles away from the active role played in Revolution From Within. History lives and Russia seems to be in another “Crossing the Chasm” moment as we speak. Reading this book brings so many thoughts and applications forward to today.

I heartily recommend.

—  M Harden, Amazon Reviews, June 2, 2015

Incredible and surprising perspectives on little-known facts about the Russian Revolution

My first thought when describing this wonderful book was that it surprised me.

I was born in Lithuania, which was a part of the Soviet Union at that time, and spent the first 30 years of my life under the Soviet regime. As a result, I am very familiar with it (of course, in its more “mild” version compared to Lenin and Stalin’s regime). Honestly, I was always a bit skeptical about the ability of a Western person to understand Russia and its history. Not even because of the “mysterious Russian soul”, but simply because (as I thought) without having this experience in your own life, it is very hard to understand life in that part of the world.

Since my early childhood I loved history and read a lot of books about Russian as well as world history. I thought that I knew a lot (if not everything) about Russian history, at least in terms of major events.

Catherine Baird succeeded to surprise me with some interesting facts that I was not aware of, specifically the YMCA’s role in the Russian revolution and the fate of the Russian philosophers on the “Philosophers’ Ship”.

Another thought that came to me after reading this book, is that perhaps a person who was not directly involved in Russian (Soviet) life, is exactly the person to provide a fresh look from a new side that may expose things that were not seen by people from the former Soviet Union. Catherine Baird has a great advantage against people like me in regards to Russia and Russian history – she can allow to herself to be objective. I cannot, as a result of spending so many years in that environment, struggling with it, and in the end, hating it. Therefore, I cannot be objective (even if I would like to be).

I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in Russian history or history in general. As well as anyone who is interested in topics regarding an individual and authority, an individual and society, and/or the personal responsibility of an individual to history.

—  Arnold Y, Amazon Reviews, June 6, 2015


“Religious Communism? Nicolai Berdyaev’s Contribution to Esprit’s Interpretation of Communism” Canadian Journal of History / Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire, Vol 30, No. 1, 1995.

Reviews for “Religious Communism?”

“As for the Berdyaev article, I think it is first-rate and deserves publication on its own merit even if it fails to win the competition. The research is excellent, the ideas are well thought out and the writing is splendid. I personally learned a lot from the article and the author writes better than many history professors.” — (Canadian Journal of History Reviewer, 1994. Note, the essay did win the 1994 Graduate Essay Prize.)

“This is a well written, exciting essay on Berdyaev’s contribution to Esprit. I would highly encourage the publication of this article because with the Collapse of the Soviet Union there has been renewed interest in the Russian émigré community in the West from Russian scholars living in the new Russia. Secondly, there is a revival of interest in all varieties of religious experience in the new Russia and this article would be most timely.” — (Canadian Journal of History Reviewer, 1994.)




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