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Conspirator: Lenin in Exile the Making of a Revolutionary Hardcover – 2 Feb 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st Edition edition (2 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465013953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013951
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,384,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Booklist" "Rappaport delivers a vital restoration of the real Lenin." "Russian Life" "The period of Lenin's life when he wandered Europe, impoverished and isolated, prior to the 1917 revolution is recounted in fascinating detail in this new book... This volume contributes immensely to our understanding of how Lenin forged his cadre, his leadership style and the worldview that all came to be so brutally reflected in the oppressive state he founded." "Kirkus" "Remini revisits the Compromise of 1850 as an important, cautionary tale for today.... [He] skillfully presents the debates by the Great Triumvirate - Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster - and decides that Clay's compromise ultimately saved the Union by allowing the North ten years to prepare for war and to nourish the great leader it needed - Abraham Lincoln. A fresh look at the value of compromise in advancing the general interest." "Seattle Times" "[A]n excellent account of Lenin's formative years as a political exile from tsarist Russia that evokes the desperate scene of the European radical underground with nuance and in engaging detail.... Rappaport handles her subject with admirable objectivity, which makes the image of Lenin that emerges all the more damning." "Foreign Affairs" "Never before have [Lenin's] mind, habits, quirks, and passions been so well portrayed as in this book.... The events of these years have been recounted a thousand times, but Rappaport penetrates beyond them by trailing after Lenin, his utterly devoted wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and the sundry young Russian revolutionaries who collected about him in an endless succession of one-room furnitureless apartments, makeshift meeting places, and furtive printing centers." "Richmond Times-Dispatch" "Helen Rappaport, in Conspirator, vividly describes the years that Nikolai Lenin, one of the century's leading monsters, responsible for the reign of terror and the Gulag, spent in e

About the Author

Helen Rappaport is a specialist in Russian history, as well as fluent in Russian. In 2002, she was Russian consultant to the National Theater's Tom Stoppard trilogy, "The Coast of Utopia." She has translated all seven of Chekhov's plays and is most recently the author of "The Last Days of the Romanovs." She lives in Oxford, England.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Geoffrey Noble on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
A rather good account of Lenin prior to 1917. Really captures his demonic and unbalanced personality.

I find the other review very very confusing

Lenin comes alive in this book in a way I have rarely seen
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Warts and All 8 Mar. 2010
By Ruth Marris Macaulay - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Helen Rappaport has taken out the hagiographers of Saint Lenin and put them in front of a firing squad. Conspirator is a refreshingly balanced, "warts and all", look at Lenin's life in exile before the Russian Revolution. The author deftly juxtaposes Lenin's intense and passionate disciples with those who knew him best - his family. One minute we have the Lenin of the fiery three-hour political speech that cast a spell on his "groupies", as his eyes gleamed with a fanatic, almost religious fervor - and the next we have the Lenin of cheap lodgings living on tea and sausage, a workaholic with poor health, exploiting his wife, his mother-in-law and his mistress. No fun for those who lived with him, great for those who were willing to die for his ideas in the coming revolution. I could not put this book down. It combines scholarship with good writing (often, in books like this, you get either one or the other ) but here you get both. Helen Rappaport engages the reader on several levels and the knowledge that all the speeches and suffering will culminate in a successful revolution keeps up the pace. Every so often she fast forwards - like when Lenin pawns a friend's watch because he has no money (again) and years later sends him. a new watch courtesy of the Soviet government. Above all Rappaport does an amazing job in making Lenin human - the reader is both sympathetic toward him and irritated by him by turns - yes, he's a man with a mission that overrides everything else, but he also hikes in the mountains, swims in the river and breathes the same kind of air as you and me. This is a Lenin who puts his pants on one leg at a time whatever is on his mind.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Decidedly Uncommercial Traveler 29 Mar. 2010
By Anton Steinpilz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
(A longer version of this review appears at Generation Bubble. Click my amazon customer profile for details.)

Historian Helen Rappaport *Conspirator: Lenin in Exile* is devoted to Lenin's wilderness years, which numbered sixteen. During his exile Lenin cultivated and honed his nearly superhuman devotion to the cause of Communist Revolution in Russia. Rappaport sets her subject up as a sort of Coriolanus; his proud resolve and immovable convictions frequently sets him at odds with his fellow revolutionaries. Generational as well as doctrinal tensions abound; Lenin frequently found himself at variance with no less a personage than the father of Russian Marxism, Georgy Plekhanov (a man for whom Lenin professed the deepest admiration, their markedly different casts of mind notwithstanding). Less estimable in Lenin's view, however, were the Mensheviks of his own revolutionary cohort, whose desire for a more incremental implementation of communism, which they felt more in keeping with Marx's own prescriptions, clashed with Lenin's own program of what one could call today a sort of "shock-and-awe" approach to founding a workers' paradise.

Of course, the tale of the tape shows that Lenin eventually carried the day, and Rappaport presents plenty of instances of Lenin's demonstrating the very powers that allowed him to do so. When it came to the Mensheviks especially, he was inexorable.

But these traits go to show the complexity of Lenin's character, which managed to harmonize utopian ends with brutal means. Lenin eagerly supported the rampant bomb-tossing and other acts of terror going on in czarist Russia, even going so far as to encourage "'bloodshed on a colossal scale'" during the mass uprising of 1905 -- an uprising that Lenin and other revolutionary leaders curiously sat out, choosing to remain abroad. But along with a eagerness for violence Lenin revealed a gentler side. Enamored of nature, enthusiastic about bicycling (a pastime that nearly crippled him), fond of children, gracious and quiet as a tenant -- these are all traits one comes discover about Lenin through reading *Conspirator*, and they go some way toward dispelling whatever distortions, exaggerations or fabrications have come to settle on the man's reputation since his ascension to world-historical prominence.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining book on Lenin in exile 16 Jun. 2010
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book from Helen Rapport is not the biography of one of the founders of the Soviet Union. It rather traces every step that Vladimir Ulyanov, later known as Lenin, took since coming of political age until his return to Russia in 1917. From his exile within Russia to his banishment in Europe, Rapport carefully records every minor detail that helped shape the life and thinking of the Soviet-leader-to-be.
Lenin's political activism started in Switzerland where, together with other Russian exiles, he created a "revolutionary" periodical called the Spark. Around his editorial board, Lenin created a political group, which joined other like-minded Marxist factions. With time, however, the other Marxist groups started leaning more toward "change from within" and liberal social democracy, whereas Lenin - a man with an "exceptional sense of purpose" - insisted on a full-fledged revolution that would topple the Russian tsar and replace him with a people's government.
Lenin's job was not easy. The production of his newspaper stumbled due to lack of funds. Its circulation lurched.
Through this book, readers will be introduced to Lenin's daily life. Lenin spent most of his time researching Marxism and economic indicators of countries. He rejected life luxuries and lived - with his wife Nadya and her mother - in austerity. More often than not, Lenin's mother would send him money.
Yet, despite the failure of his indoctrination of the Russian masses through the Spark, and him being outnumbered in the political party he helped found, and despite his impoverished life and his not-very promising political career suffering under the watchful eye of the tsar's secret police, the Okrahna, Lenin rarely despaired, and always dominated over his peers.
By WWI and the abduction of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, Lenin - still in Europe - decided to take a big risk by inviting the Germans to transport him back to Russia, through German-controlled territories. Lenin had reportedly said that he and his group would be either hanged, or they would eventually rule Russia.
Immediately upon his return to Russia - coming from Finland - the interim Russian government gave the exile a hero's welcome. To their dismay, Lenin attacked the government and insisted that his vision of a revolution must rule.
The downfall of the tsar had taken Lenin by surprise. Russia was not ready to be transformed into an industrial nation. Lenin, according to Rapport, decided instead to circumvent such surprise by merging the two steps of his imagined revolution into one. Eventually, the views of an ideologue like Lenin, detached from Russian reality, resulted in a civil war and the emergence of a dictatorship, rather than a utopian communist state.
Rapport's prose is entertaining and her facts well-researched. While the book touches on the evolution of Lenin's thought and his ideological battles with his peers and rivals, it stays away from getting into the details of ideology. Rapport presents enough information for the reader to understand Lenin's stances.
Other than his political activism, his mundane daily routine, his family and financial issues, Rapport makes sure to highlight Lenin's entertainment, which was focused on hiking and biking. She also records Lenin's romances, his relationship with his lieutenant and lover Inessa, his probable trips to London's red district. She mentions that he eventually died from syphilis.
Rapport also highlights the parts of Lenin's life in exile, during which he was irrelevant to events in Russia and was disconnected from its affairs. Soviet hagiographers tried to hide this part.
Overall, the book is worth the money.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Man Behind the Myth 18 Jun. 2014
By Paul Hosse - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lenin has long been seen in the West as both a demon and a savior. His message of all power to the working classes continues to inspire terror among the rich and powerful. The philosophy he created and imposed by shear willpower still shakes the world nearly one hundred years after the revolution to overthrow the Czar. His followers have included such as Castro, Mao, Che, Ho Chi Minh, and continues to move thousands of others today. Few men in human history brought so many under their spell as he has. But, who was the real man behind all the myths; behind the officially sanctioned stories and edited photgraphs?

Helen Rappaport's "Conspirator: Lenin in Exile" attempts to peal away layers of myths and dead ends to reveal Lenin as he really was---to see him in all his glory and triumphs and with all his flaws and doubts. Although there's no much new here, the book is well written and easy to follow along. Ms. Rappaport does give extra attention to Lenin's alleged affair with the beautiful and highly intelligent Inessa Armand which adds more of a human element occasionaly missing from other biographies. The only serious criticism I found is to her conclusions regarding Lenin's death, which other Lenin biographers would disagree with as well. The book is nicely furnished with photographs, some of which are rather rare. At 315 pages, this book is a good addition for anyone interested in Lenin, Communism, or Russian History.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lenin Before the Revolution 22 Mar. 2011
By Andrew Desmond - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I often wonder, when reading historical biographies, whether it is the person who creates the events or the events that create the person. Did Lenin create the Russian revolution or was he simply a player against the broad sweep if history? In fact, it's probably a bit of each.

Helen Rappaport's work, "Conspirator: Lenin in Exile" covers Lenin's life from 1900 until the events of 1917. In this time, Lenin lived abroad hoping that one day, events would lead to revolution and that he could be at its vanguard. And, indeed, this is what happened. More broadly, over these years, Lenin lived in a variety of European cities. He was constantly living in fear of apprehension while studying Marx and dragging his wife and mother in law with him. At this time, he hardly seemed like the man about to change history. He was living on donations, the proceeds of robberies and the generosity of his family from time to time. He certainly did not seem to be the historical figure that he was to become.

In many respects, Helen Rappaport's work is a "warts and all" story. There is none of the apologies and veneration that is seen in so many books about Lenin. Yet, at the same time, she presents as a real person. He had quarrels, a lover and bouts of illness. However, his key role in history was still in front of him.

There is one interesting vignette from the book that I enjoyed. In 1917, Lenin called the US Embassy in Berne to discuss his movements. A junior staffer, Alan Dulles, answered the phone but refused to entertain any discussions. The embassy was closed. It was Easter Sunday. Perhaps the world could have been different had Dulles taken the call and then prevented Lenin from leaving Switzerland?

"Conspirator" is a book for those interested in one of the great figures of the 20th century. Like him or not, Lenin was undoubtedly great.
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