Lenin's politics continue to reverberate around the world even after the end of the USSR. His name elicits revulsion and reverence, yet Lenin the man remains largely a mystery. This biography shows us Lenin as we have never seen him, in his full complexity as revolutionary, political leader, thinker, and private person.
Born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov in 1870, the son of a schools inspector and a doctor's daughter, Lenin was to become the greatest single force in the Soviet revolution—and perhaps the most influential politician of the twentieth century. Drawing on sources only recently discovered, Robert Service explores the social, cultural, and political catalysts for Lenin's explosion into global prominence. His book gives us the vast panorama of Russia in that awesome vortex of change from tsarism's collapse to the establishment of the communist one-party state. Through the prism of Lenin's career, Service focuses on dictatorship, the Marxist revolutionary dream, civil war, and interwar European politics. And we are shown how Lenin, despite the hardships he inflicted, was widely mourned upon his death in 1924.
Service's Lenin is a political colossus but also a believable human being. This biography stresses the importance of his supportive family and of its ethnic and cultural background. The author examines his education, upbringing, and the troubles of his early life to explain the emergence of a rebel whose devotion to destruction proved greater than his love for the "proletariat" he supposedly served. We see how his intellectual preoccupations and inner rage underwent volatile interaction and propelled his career from young Marxist activist to founder of the communist party and the Soviet state—and how he bequeathed to Russia a legacy of political oppression and social intimidation that has yet to be expunged.
Beryl Williams' new book is a clear introduction to the life, ideology and impact of Lenin, one of the formative figures of the twentieth-century world.
It provides an excellent introduction to Lenin and his role in the Russian Revolution. An objective account of his years in power between 1917 and 1924, it is written in the light of new documents made available since the Gorbachev era and the end of the Soviet Union. Beryl Williams provides an up to date evaluation of:
Lenin's life and thoughts and the importance of ideology in both
the cultural revolution
Lenin's foreign policy and expansionism
Lenin's cult and the re-evaluation of his legacy that has taken place during the last decade.
Beryl Williams' lucid study of Lenin's life and work adds to the recent debates that have seen a re-examination of the revolution and Lenin himself, since the collapse of communism.
and is author of The Russian Revolution 1917-21.
Edited and introduced by the eminent scholar Richard Pipes in collaboration with Y.A. Buranov of the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History in Moscow, the documents date from 1886 through the end of Lenin's life. They reveal, among other things, that:
• Lenin's purpose in invading Poland in 1920 was not merely to sovietize that country but to use it as a springboard for the invasion of Germany and England;
• Lenin took money from the Germans (here we have the first incontrovertible evidence for this);
• in 1919 Lenin issued instructions to the Communist authorities in the Ukraine not to accept Jews in the Soviet government of that republic;
• as late as 1922 Lenin believed in the imminence of social revolution in the West, and he planned subversion in Finland, Turkey, Lithuania, and other countries;
• Lenin had little regard for Trotsky's judgment on important matters and relied heavily on Stalin;
• Lenin assiduously tracked dissident intellectuals and urged repressive action or deportation;
• Lenin launched a political offensive against the Orthodox Church, ordering that priests who resisted seizure of church property be shot--"the more the better."