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Was Lenin a visionary whose ideals were subverted by his followers? Or was he a cynical misanthrope, even crueler than Stalin? This book, which contains newly released documents from the Lenin archive in Russia, lays bare Lenin the man and the politician, leaving little doubt that he was a ruthless and manipulative leader who used terror, subversion, and persecution to achieve his goals. Edited and introduced by the eminent scholar Richard Pipes in collaboration with Y.A. Buranov of the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History in Moscow, the documents date from 1886 through the end of Lenin's life. They reveal, among other things, that: * Lenin's purpose in invading Poland in 1920 was not merely to sovietize that country but to use it as a springboard for the invasion of Germany and England; * Lenin took money from the Germans (here we have the first incontrovertible evidence for this); * in 1919 Lenin issued instructions to the Communist authorities in the Ukraine not to accept Jews in the Soviet government of that republic; * as late as 1922 Lenin believed in the imminence of social revolution in the West, and he planned subversion in Finland, Turkey, Lithuania, and other countries; * Lenin had little regard for Trotsky's judgment on important matters and relied heavily on Stalin; * Lenin assiduously tracked dissident intellectuals and urged repressive action or deportation; * Lenin launched a political offensive against the Orthodox Church, ordering that priests who resisted seizure of church property be shot--"the more the better."

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300076622
ISBN-10: 0300076622
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 14mm)
Pages: 246
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jun-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » The latest issue of the Yale Annals of Communism Series contains significant revelations in the midst of rather turgid and disconnected documents. As Pipes (Russian History/Harvard; Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 1994, etc.) notes, much of this material, consisting of messages within the Soviet bureaucracy, tends to be elliptical and refers to events and people without much significance today. Although Pipes explains the material and identifies the protagonists, it is inevitably a little like looking for small nuggets of gold among the pebbles. Nonetheless, the starkest revelations - no longer unexpected, but stark in their brutality - concern Lenin's repeated acts of cruelty. "Hang (hang without fail, so the people see) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers," he instructs the comrades in charge at Penza, underlining the words "no fewer than one hundred" three times. "It is necessary secretly - and urgently - to prepare the terror," he orders the secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee. Perhaps most surprising is that this treatment is extended also to Jews: "Treat the Jews and urban inhabitants in the Ukraine with an iron rod," he orders. Similarly, he instructs his followers to carry out the confiscation of church valuables "with the most savage and merciless energy"; orders strikers arrested and hundreds of people deported; gives orders to subvert a treaty that he has just signed; and dismisses his experts as "shit." Other minor revelations include proof that Lenin's mother enrolled herself and her children in the nobility of Simbirsk, so that Lenin, to the embarrassment of the Soviet authorities, was actually a hereditary noble; that in his personal relations with his subordinates he could be highly solicitous (insisting that Stalin take three-day weekends); that he had a low opinion of Trotsky's military abilities ("nothing but bad nerves," he sniffs after reading one of Trotsky's telegrams); and that he wrote even to his mistress, Inessa Armand, as if he were reporting to the Central Committee. Not engrossing, but highly enlightening. (Kirkus Reviews)


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