The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin's Widow
Email this review


 A monumental narration of the travails of Russian Communism, served up by the widow of one of its first founders--and victims. Larina grew up in a family of prominent socialist intellectuals: Her father, a well-known economist and a close friend of Lenin's, served as a mentor to an entire generation of young revolutionaries. One of these, Nikolai Bukharin, became Larina's husband and part of the inner circle of the Bolshevik leadership. After the 1917 revolution, Bukharin worked as an adviser to Lenin during the turmoil of the civil war and its aftermath, and was ultimately responsible for many of the ideas embodied in Lenin's New Economic Policy of the early 1920's. Stalin's rise to power, however, carried an enduring chill into Russia's political atmosphere and doomed the careers and lives of anyone whose prominence or charisma seemed to threaten the elaborate ``cult of personality'' that maintained the dictator's authority. Bukharin was one of the earliest victims, denounced as a traitor and ``convicted'' of absurd and incredible crimes at one of the most elaborate show trials of the era. After his execution in 1938, Larina's life became an uninterrupted chronicle of harassment and exile: as a chesir (the relative of a counter- revolutionary), she was separated from her son and interned in one gulag after another for the next 30 years. Larina's memoir, though, is measured, vivid, and strikingly free of malice; her tone throughout is one of absolute self-reliance, the sustaining confidence of a thoroughly independent woman who believed all along that the day of her vindication would ultimately arrive. Exceptionally moving and strong: an eloquent statement of human endurance and superhuman faith. (Photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03025-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993