A fascinating biography of the man who helped launch the Russian Revolution, which uses the personal - including Lenin's key relationships with the women in his life - to shed light on the political<./b>
Since the birth of Soviet Russia, Vladimir Lenin has been viewed as a controversial figure, both revered and reviled for his rigid political ideals. Still, he continues to fascinate as a man who made history and who created the first Communist state, a model that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world.
Drawing on new research, including the diaries, memoirs, and personal letters of both Lenin and his friends, Victor Sebestyen's unique biography - the first in English in nearly two decades - is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the 20th century but a portrait of Lenin the man. Unexpectedly, Lenin was someone who loved nature, hunting, and fishing and could identify hundreds of species of plants, a despotic ruler whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of the complex love triangle Lenin had with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a different character from the coldly one-dimensional figure of the legend.
Sebestyen also reveals Lenin as a ruthless and single-minded despot and a "product of his time and place: a violent, tyrannical and corrupt Russia". He seized power in a coup, promised a revolution, a socialist utopia for the people, offered simple solutions to complex issues, and constantly lied; in fact what he created was more "a mirror image of the Romanov autocracy". He authorized the deaths of thousands of people and created a system based on the idea that political terror against opponents was justified for the greater ideal. One of his old comrades who had once admired him said he "desired the good...but created evil". And that would include his invention of Stalin, who would take Lenin's system of the gulag and the secret police to new heights.
Bringing Lenin to life for the first time as a complex human being, Sebestyen casts a new light on the Russian Revolution, one of the great turning points of modern history.
"[An] excellent, original, and compelling portrait of Lenin as man and leader." (Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs)
"A vivid and rounded picture of Lenin the man. Serious and deeply reserved, the great revolutionary had few friends but loved at least two women deeply, and at the same time. Lenin's life has been told before, but Sebestyen brings to the task a gift for narrative and for describing his rich cast of characters." [Margaret MacMillan, The Oldie (UK)]
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Excellent Bio of a Key Figure of the 20th Century
- Richard L. Rubin