This article illustrates the recruitment profile of the Civil War cohort of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1919 to 1921.It disputes the traditional historiography, which presents the party as undergoing a linear process of decay and corruption ending in the period of the careerists of the Brezhnev period. Instead it demonstrates that even in the early period of the revolutionary republic the party was an attractive prospect for those wishing to attain position and privilege. Once it had shown itself to be the victor in the conflict, the party enjoyed considerable popularity in unexpected regions, attracting ambitious young peasants from the peripheries of the former Empire.

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