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Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution Paperback – 1 Aug 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184046156X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840461565
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 741,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Appignanesi, in a surprise from his effort in Introducing Existentialism (which I most definitely DO NOT recommend), has created a neat, short but comprehensive overview not only of Lenin and his thought, but also the Russian Revolution and Civil War; Russia's earlier socialists and radicals such as the Narodniks; the early Russian Marxist thinkers such as Plekhanov and his successors, the "Legal Marxists", and their links with the German Social Democratic intelligensia; Lenin's contemporary intellectual rivals and one-time allies, and their respective philosophies; and there's even a very interesting and pretty in-depth essay at the end on the legacy and future of Leninist thought. The bibliography is excellent too.

I heartily recommend this as both a good historical and political introduction to Lenin, his thought, and his life.

However, the major problem with the book is doubtlessly Appignanesi's own prominent Leninist (or at least overly Lenin-sympathetic) views, which strongly cloud his interpretation, block almost any real criticisms of Lenin and his ideas, and sadly appear to play fast and loose with established facts and standard accounts, particularly over whether or not Red October was a coup d'etat or some sort of popular uprising by proxy (it was very definitely the former), as well as the legacy (and body count) of "War Communism". It's highly irritating knowing that what you're reading in an otherwise fine book is either definitely wrong or perhaps some inappropriate half-truth.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought for a politics student. Fits the bill - a good introduction and engaging for a young person
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d536d2c) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d558534) out of 5 stars Lenin, Liberation, and Laughs 18 Sept. 2002
By Chris Hill - Published on
Format: Paperback
Whilst many may claim that this book is a celebration of the machine that allowed Stalin to instigate genocide upon Russia, it is the underlying satire and wit that guide's the reader through the basics of the Russian revolution and to more complex questions that pose themselves in the post-glasnost era. This is not a complete overview of Russia in the grips of socialism, but that was never the purpose. The book highlights the important aspects of the period and introduces the more multifaceted situations. A superb read and a good buy.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d553810) out of 5 stars An informative and funny introduction. 3 Oct. 2000
By Jonathan D. Eckel - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to believe that a figure as complex as Vladimir Lenin could be successfully presented in a simple and humorous manner, but this book does exactly that. It is excellent not only for beginners seeking a quick overview of Lenin and the Russian Revolution, but also provides a refreshing antidote for experts who have grown weary of trying to plough through the biased and deadly dull works of hacks like Richard Pipes and Dmitri Volkogonov. You'll get a much more informative portrait of Lenin from this book's 175 short pages of cartoons mixed with facts than you would from Volkogonov's 500 page diatribe (_Lenin: A New Biography_).
Is this book a case of "Schoolhouse Rock" meeting the Russian Revolution? Not exactly. It is more ideally suited for high-school students and young adults, but readers of all ages will enjoy the light-hearted format. It occasionally displays a slight bias in Lenin's favor, but this should be seen as a good thing when you consider that even the better biographies of Lenin accessible to American readers (Adam B. Ulam's _The Bolsheviks_, for example) all contain a much more decided bias against him.
Considering that it is inexpensive and will only take a day or so to finish, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Lenin and the Russian Revolution. You'll get a few laughs from it, too.
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d6330c0) out of 5 stars Good for a basic overview and not much more... 7 July 2002
By ehakus - Published on
Format: Paperback
This small book is good for a quick overview of the the Russian Revolution and Lenin's life. It explains the basic ideas pretty well and has the important facts laid out in an interesting and easy to understand way.
Still, this book is biased towards Lenin's cause, and justifies to too great an extent Lenin's killing of hundreds of thousands of people in the Red Terror.
If you need a quick study guide on the Russian Revolution, this book is fine - just keep in mind that Lenin was not really as benevolent a person as he is made out to be in the cartoons. But, if you are trying to really understand the topic or write a serious research paper on it, save your money and buy another book on Lenin, such as "Lenin" by Robert Service.
3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d55cc0c) out of 5 stars A few important mistakes 15 Jan. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Now I've read just read this book and have come up with a few important mistakes in the text. A small example is that it claims that Martov "has first-hand experience of stick-action among Jewish socialist workers (the Bund). The first mass strike of 15,000 Bundists occurs at a Bialystok textile industry in 1895." (p.48)
This is all very nice except that Martov was a Jewish Socialist, yes, but not a Bundist, which is obvious from page 70 onwards when the Bund walks out of the 27th session, but Martov stays with the Mensheviks. Another problem with this statment is that it would have been impossible for the Bund to organise a 15,000 worker, mass-strike in Bialystok in 1895, becuase the Bund wasn't formed until 1897. And no the name was not simply chosen for the organisation because it was popular and therefore it was an easy mistake. The name of the Bund was debated over and changed three times before it got it's full name.
Good idea, but really, these factual errors are embarressing.
4 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d55c978) out of 5 stars Hitler should have had this guy write his biography 7 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Okay, some of the "factual" stuff, dates and events is worth reading - if you can ignore the fact that this book basically celebrates a man who killed millions (much of it genocidal) and instigated the enslavement of half the planet.
With the opening of the Soviet archives (an event that happend after the writing of this book) it became apparent that Stalin wasn't the first "bad-boy" of the Soviet Union. The purges, the pograms, the elimination of political rivals (a tactic later modeled by Hitler) started with Lenin. But you won't hear about that in this book. Like a Holocaust denier, the author avoids anything resembling facts and uses rhetoric to paint a warm picture of one of the most evil men of the 20th Century.
... Appignanesi ignores earlier works like Gulag Archipelago to paint a portrait of a loving socialist seeking to better the world.
Old school communist apologists like Appignanesi have a difficult time realizing that "the great experiment" failed miserably. This book is ample proof of how far they'll go to rationalize their devotion to their anachronistic ideology.
Read it in the same light as you would watch Triumph of the Will (Sans the homoerotic scenes of Germans bathing each other (shudder)). It's the work of someone so blinded by their ideology, they can't see the blood on the walls.
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