THE RINGS OF DESTINY: Inside Soviet Russia from Lenin to Brezhnev by Aino Kuusinen

THE RINGS OF DESTINY: Inside Soviet Russia from Lenin to Brezhnev

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Otto Kuusinen was a Soviet official who advised Stalin and outlived him; Aino was an adventurous Finn who happened to marry him in Moscow in 1922. She wrote these memoirs in old age after she returned to live in Finland in 1965. Aino writes with sarcastic detachment about scandals and deprivations in Moscow during the '20's, when she worked in the midst of the Comintern's often ludicrous deliberations and maneuvers. The International's problems are reflected in the fact that the author herself, shrewd and brave but politically untrained, was dispatched on important secret missions to the U.S. and Japan. Then the purges grabbed her. The account of her years in interrogation cells and labor camps (as a medic she survived eight years in Ivan Denisovich's Vorkuta) are piercing, with their simple descriptions of victims' lives and conditions. Yet, compared with a memoir like Nothing But the Truth (1971) by Joseph Berger, another foreign Comintern official who managed to survive the camps, it lacks emotional richness and concern for people outside Aino's immediate ken. Whether this is because she wrote the book in her seventies, or because she was always a laminated individualist, it is hard to say. It is also impossible to know how or whether Wolfgang Leonhard, the editor, has shaped the memoir. The final impression is of keen observation of particulars, a strong will, but an ultimate trivialization of historical experience.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1974
Publisher: Morrow