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Vladimir Lenin: A Life From Beginning to End Paperback – 10 May 2017
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The last chapter about the posthumous life of his dead body was the most interesting part of the book.
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Unfortunately, the author has chosen to shroud them in cliches and a writing style that ranges from fair to downright clunky. Here are a few excerpts:
- "This one short, bald-headed, goatee-and moustached figure seemed to have walked right into the pages of history from the middle of nowhere."
- "So let's unravel the cobwebs of time that cover the quite exceptional chapters that make up Vladimir Lenin's life."
- "Even more dramatic than the ramifications of his father's passing, it was a year later in 1887 when his brother was attested and then summarily executed that Lenin was truly sent down the point of no return."
I could list more, but you get the point. It is a shame, because the book is decently researched and organized. With some careful editing and a retreat from the cliches, this could easily have been a four- or five-star effort. In its present state, it is only able to garner three.
The nature of the project means that there will be gaps and that things some readers will really want won't be there. That's just going to happen. In this case I think the gaps are significant.
While the author does highlight the execution of Lenin's brother as a crucial point, the nature of what he was up against, the truly savage brutality of tsarism is minimized. The original big brother wasn't Lenin but the Tsar. His secret police were everywhere. The Bolsheviks didn't imagine a world filed with enemy agents plotting their overthrow--an overthrow that would have meant the execution of everyone of them. That was their reality.
I think too this work suffers from a tone, one that sees Lenin as an arrogant intellectual who was contemptuous of the ordinary people. Only intellectual geniuses like him could lead the proletariat :(
I think this is niether accurate nor fair. Bolshevism is really complicated but it is also decidedly anti intellectual. I think that looking in more detail at the betrayal of 1914 when the reformist socialists lined up to support the war had a deep impact on Lenin and the rise of Bolshevism. While stuff will always be left out, this gap really reduces the narrative.
Not my favorite in this collection.
BUT: there are some quirky descriptions, an early one is: "He wasn't born with a copy of Karl Marx's 'Communist Manifesto' hanging out of his mouth." WHAT?
I may have missed something, but I could not understand what role Lenin ultimately held - he seemed to wield power, but not be in charge and with a title (such as 'President')?
STILL - learned a lot...!
The book would have been better had it been carefully proofread.