69 of 102 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Robert Service on Lenin, 25 April 2004
A book that tells us a lot more about Robert Service than it does aboutLenin. Despite the extensive research, it is packed with irritatingspeculation and blunt assertions and the events it describes are too oftenburied under Service's indignation. What are we to make of sentences suchas: "Lenin was not feeling in the best of sorts either physically oremotionally. And it served him right."?
We have endless speculation about what Lenin may have thought at any giventime. Among my favourites were: "It cannot be proved that Lenin held thetotal physical liquidation of the middle classes as a party objective" and"If Lenin dreamed of heading a European socialist federal regime, herefrained from giving vent to the notion". The Economist was right when itdescribed the book as: "... far more than a comprehensive summary of theestablished facts..."
In his haste to represent Lenin as a monster Service repeatedly confusesdictatorship by a class with dictatorship by an individual. Why couldn'the argue, if he thought it was true, that Lenin advocated the former butparticipated in a government controlled by a political elite? Why muddlethis point - "It was a fine dictatorship when the supreme leader wastreated contemptuously by his underlings!" It's nonsense and it appearsintentional.
Robert Service does not share Lenin's class-based view of history, whythen should he expect Lenin to share his moral scruples? To learn thatLenin's conduct might not be acceptable at a posh dinner party is about assurprising as finding out that Mozart didn't play heavy metal.