LENIN by Ronald W. Clark


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An exhaustive and exhausting biography of the revolutionary leader, from the late biographer of Darwin, Edison, Russell, etc. This study of Vladimir Ulyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, features an emphasis on the more ""personal"" aspects of his life. Unfortunately, those glimpses we receive of Lenin relaxed--hunting (incompetently, but enthusiastically); at the Folies Bergere; skating, bicycling; mountain climbing; etc.--are surrounded by nearly impenetrable thickets of facts, the dates of every trip in the country, the menu of every picnic. The weight of documentation prevents the subject from coming off the page until the eve of revolution, when the excitement of the events overwhelms Clark's deadening prose. It's all here, nonetheless: the cold, brilliant, young Lenin, politicized by brother Aleksandr's execution; his growing revolutionary consciousness; his wife and lifelong colleague, Krupskaya; the evolution, infighting, and publications of the many revolutionary factions; abdication; the fall of the Provisional government to the Bolsheviks; the humiliation of Brest-Litovsk; the enactment of War Communism and then the NEP (New Economic Program); and finally, Lenin's death, Stalin's seizure of power (contrary to the ""Testament,"" which directed that Trotsky, ""the greatest Jew since Christ,"" succeed him), and brief comment on the Lenin cult. Probably the definitive work in English until Soviet attitudes change and more data becomes available; still, though, most readers will prefer friendlier, standard works, such as Bertram D. Wolfe's Three Who Made a Revolution.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Harper & Row