Lenin: A Biography

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9780330491396: Lenin: A Biography

Lenin is a colossal figure whose influence on twentieth-century history cannot be underestimated. Robert Service has written a calmly authoritative biography on this seemingly unknowable figure. Making use of recently opened archives, he has been able to piece together the private as well as the public life, giving the first complete picture of Lenin. This biography simultaneously provides an account of one of the greatest turning points in modern history. Through the prism of Lenin's career, Service examines events such as the October Revolution and the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, the one-party state, economic modernisation, dictatorship, and the politics of inter-war Europe. In discovering the origins of the USSR, he casts light on the nature of the state and society which Lenin left behind and which have not entirely disappeared after the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991. 'Immensely scholarly but also vivid and readable. This is a splendid book, much the best that I have ever read about Lenin ...I was overwhelmed by the power and vividness of this portrait.' - Dominic Lieven, "Sunday Telegraph". 'He has managed skilfully to depict the surreal life of an obsessive, brilliant and stubborn individual.' - "Guardian". 'Lenin's life was politics, but Service has succeeded in keeping Lenin the man in focus throughout ...This book deserves a place among the best studies of one of the most fascinating figures in modern history.' - Harold Shukman, "The Times".

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From the Inside Flap:

LENIN: His politics still reverberate around the world even after the end of the USSR. His name elicits revulsion and reverence. And yet Lenin the man remains largely a mystery. This biography shows us Lenin as we have never seen him, in his full complexity as revolutionary, political leader, thinker, and private person.

Born Vladimir Illich Ulyanov in 1870, the son of a schools inspector and a doctor's daughter, Lenin was to become the greatest single force in the Soviet revolution -- and perhaps the most influential politician of the twentieth century. Drawing on sources only recently discovered, Robert Service explores the social, cultural, and political catalysts for Lenin's explosion into global prominence. His book gives us the vast panorama of Russia in that awesome vortex of change from tsarism's collapse to the establishment of the communist one-party state. Through the prism of Lenin's career Service focuses on dictatorship, the Marxist revolutionary dream, civil war, and inter-war European politics. And we are shown how Lenin, despite the hardships he inflicted, was widely mourned after his death in 1924.

Robert Service's Lenin is a political colossus but also a believable human being. This biography stresses the importance of his supportive family and of its ethnic and cultural background. Service examines his education, upbringing, and the troubles of his early life to explain the emergence of a rebel whose devotion to destruction proved greater than his love for the 'proletariat' he supposedly served. We are enabled to see how his intellectual preoccupations and inner rage underwent volatile interaction and propelled his career from young Marxist activist to founder ofthe communist party and the Soviet state -- and how he bequeathed to Russia a legacy of political oppression and social intimidation that has yet to be expunged.

About the Author:

Robert Service is the author of the trilogy Lenin: A Political Life and A History of Twentieth Century Russia, as well as other books on Russian history

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