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The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive (Annals of Communism) Paperback – 1 Jun 1999

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (1 Jun. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300076622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300076622
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 526,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Lenin - the man, the revolutionary, and the world leader - has remained an enigma, part myth arising from the tumult of the Russian Revolution and part image carefully controlled for nearly seventy years by the leaders of the Soviet Union and their sympathizers abroad. The Unknown Lenin, containing long concealed documents from the Soviet archives, helps correct the myth and revise the image. Lenin emerges here as a ruthless, manipulative leader who used terror, subversion, and persecution to achieve his goals.

About the Author

V. I. Lenin (18701924) was a leader of the Russian Revolution and wrote extensively on the issues facing the working-class movement of his time.

Richard Pipes is Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of History, Emeritus, at Harvard University.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you believe that V.I. Lenin was an idealistic Quaker of the Inner Light variety, you might get really shocked by this book. If you are like everyone else, you might find "The Unknown Lenin" to be incredibly boring!

The "unknown" Vladimir Ilyich organized Red terror, exported revolution with the aid of the Red Army, financed Communist organizations abroad, and hated the Russian Orthodox Church. He also spied on foreigners visiting Soviet Russia.

Yeah, really.

Somehow, this sounds pretty old hat. In fact, many of these things can be exegeted even from Lenin's published writings. Others are unsurprising, for instance that Soviet Russia often signed agreements they had no intention of keeping (standard practice in international diplomacy, but apparently verboten if Bolshies do it).

As for Lenin's opponents, they organized White terror, imported counter-revolution, hated Jews and eventually financed Nazi organizations. Of course, Pipes says nothing about this. Cold Warrior much?

So who would get an ontological shock by reading "The Unknown Lenin" (edited by the talented Mr. Pipes)? Perhaps a very naïve member of the Khrushchevite-Brezhnevite CPUSA, who really believes that Nikita and Leonid were men of peace, and that this policy originated with Lenin. But surely such people no longer exist? Another possibility would be a super-revolutionary Trotskyist, who might get shocked by the fact that Lenin actually *invited* the Allies to Murmansk (in secret, of course). Later, he signed the (secret) Rapallo agreement with Germany. Lenin, the great anti-imperialist internationalist revolutionary, exposed as a common "bourgeois" diplomat.

Poor Trots.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If there is anyone left who believes that Lenin was the soul of the Revolution which Stalin went on to betray, please read this book and discover that Stalin simply played variations on the themes established by his mentor. You'll understand why the fearsome Molotov, who made even Hitler uncomfortable, stated that Lenin was much harder than Stalin.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9dd80750) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9df8569c) out of 5 stars History should remember Lenin as the book presents him. 1 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A review in simple words. The book reveals a Lenin like I have not read in any other book. The Lenin history should remember is the Lenin studied through his personal documents as the book shows. Although as the book explains, an even darker side of Lenin is still to be revealed as soon as more historian access the presidential archives in Russia. Lenin through his own documents reveals himself as man who scorned his own people, an opportunist, a murder and a master of terror and manipulation. I would also like to add that thanks to historians such as Richard Pipes, history will always reveal the true face of the master of the first terror state of this century. My admiration for Richard Pipes.
41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ea60f18) out of 5 stars Necessary correction. 14 Nov. 2002
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For many people from the left, Stalin was the ultimate gravedigger of the Revolution (Trotsky).
The first one was Lenin, by creating a one party state ruled by him.
One should remember that in the free elections of 1919 in Russia, the bolshevik party got only a good 17% of the votes. But Lenin kept his power. As Tomsky said : there was only one party, the others were in prison.
Pipes' picture is all too real: Lenin was - and there are reasons for it : his brother's death for instance - a cynical, ruthless, aggressive agitator, who despised humanity and the workers to whom he told he was to create a paradise for them.
He understood that farmers and industrial workers saw only their own interests, not his: to create a new society with new human beings.
The results of his policies were dreadful: the USSR stopped to communicate health statistics to the WHO in the seventies, because they were too disastrous.
When I was in Moscow, an important person in Russia (I saw recently a quote from him in an international newspaper) told me the following joke: why are Lenin's statues on the market place of every village? Because his arm indicates where vodka is sold. That was the future of the country.
No, Julia Voznesenskaya is more than right: communism was the power of the soviets and the alcoholisation of the country (The women's Decameron).
I recommend this necessary political essay to everybody.
26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e54b15c) out of 5 stars Provides Documentation of the True Character of Lenin 15 Nov. 2003
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While this is a slender volume, it provides very important documentary evidence of what had been hinted at and alluded to previously. The criminal nature of the Soviet Union can no longer be explained away as a corruption by Stalin of the pure and noble ideology of Lenin. The documents provided here clearly demonstrate Lenin's criminality and his role in building the terror state that was the USSR.
Dr. Richard Pipes, a great scholar on Soviet history, has done a great service for us in putting this material together so concisely and powerfully. It is another important volume in the Annals of Communism series that I cannot praise enough.
Dr. Pipes provides an introduction and a biographical sketch of Lenin, a few pictures, commentary on the importance of each document. The documents themselves are often excerpts while many are presented in full translation. There are a couple of them also provided in the original by a photograph of the actual document.
This is a vital book in understanding the origins of the Soviet Union and the nature of the relationships among the founders of what led to so many horrors and so many deaths.
49 of 67 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e385480) out of 5 stars Lenin speaks for himself 25 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Richard Pipes' presentation of archival material concerning Lenin is of great value to anyone interested in the paper trail leading from the millions of corpses scattered across Soviet history to the feet of comrade Lenin. The reviews of this book are interesting since, speaking literally, Pipes did not write the book: Lenin et. al did. Lenin himself and his various murderer flunkies, wrote the documents that comprise the book. So those that squeal like a stuck pig over this book do so in the face of the fact that Pipes did not write it -- Lenin and his accomplices are the authors of most of the material. Pipes selected documents that demonstrate Lenin's hand in various murderous terror campaigns (the persecution of the Orthodox Church), his creation of a police-terror state, and his subversive work with the Germans. This is Lenin, these are the things he did. Others suggest that somehow Pipes' selection is 'unbalanced.' Hmmm . . . Does that mean that somewhere in all the archival material there is something like an order taken by Lenin's assistant asking that flowers be sent to his wife; a photograph of Lenin passing out candy to children; a letter where the diligent Lenin promises to come over to a common prole's house to roll up his sleeves himself and fix his leaking pipes? Better yet, perhaps in the Soviet archives there is a heartwarming birthday greeting Lenin sent to Dzhirnsky: 'Happy birthday! Don't gas too many peasants in the woods on this, your special day!" Did Pipes select only those documents that portray Lenin in a bad light? It is nonsense to suggest that Pipes purposely left out documents that allow a kind, gentle, loving, zany Lenin to come through. This book testifies to the fact that Lenin was simply a nihilist, someone who did not believe in anything and simply wanted to destroy out of hatred. There is no intellectual substance to communism. It is nihilism pure and simple and thrives on darkness. Read the book for yourself and don't let those who condone murder and destruction try and make it sound as if this book is somehow 'biased.' Lies beget lies and this is what nihilists live for.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e435db0) out of 5 stars An Excelent book to start a biography of Lenin 14 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book shows genuine documents, notes and other documents signed or sent to Lenin through out his life. This book is a good starting place for any history student doing a biographical essay of Lenin's life. Lenin is portrayed here as he really was. The documents show Lenin, ordering mass executions, conspirations and many other acts of terror which truly award him as the genuine creator of 'totalitarism'in the 20th century. Through the documents in the book one can see the pattern from which future communist and nazi dictators adopted Lenin's model of a totalitarian regime. After reading the book one can truly say that either Hitler, Stalin, Castro and many other dictators were only followers of Lenin's model of a totalitarian regime (in the domestic sphere and in the international area as well).
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