Kremlin Wives

Kremlin Wives

by Larissa Vasilieva
     
 

For over seventy years the Kremlin was the bastion of the all-powerful Soviet rulers, from Lenin to Gorbachev. A great deal is known about the men who held the fates of millions in their iron grip, yet little is known about the women who shared their lives. Shrouded in secrecy, the wives and mistresses of the Soviet power elite lived out their lives in widely… See more details below

Overview

For over seventy years the Kremlin was the bastion of the all-powerful Soviet rulers, from Lenin to Gorbachev. A great deal is known about the men who held the fates of millions in their iron grip, yet little is known about the women who shared their lives. Shrouded in secrecy, the wives and mistresses of the Soviet power elite lived out their lives in widely different ways: they took part in the Revolution and its aftermath, bore children, suffered abuse; they were arrested and sent to Siberia, driven to suicide, and even murdered. Here for the first time the stark and often shocking truth about these women is revealed, thanks to the courageous efforts and dogged persistence of Larissa Vasilieva. In 1991 the KGB granted the author access to its secret files, which, together with Vasilieva's own extensive research and interviews, provided the material for this book. A best-seller when it was published in Russia, Kremlin Wives offers fresh new insights into the secret Soviet universe, from the revolutionary years to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, taking a totally new viewpoint: that of the notable women who thrived and suffered in the fortress of power. Lenin's wife - dedicated, loyal Nadezhda Krupskaya - worked passionately for the revolution alongside her husband, from the time of Lenin's exile until her death. Lenin's mistress, the beautiful French revolutionary Inessa Armand was also - to complicate matters - a close friend of Krupskaya. Stalin married Nadezhda Alliluyeva when she was only sixteen. Earlier, the author reveals, he had had a relationship with Nadezhda's mother, and there is strong evidence that Nadezhda may have been not only his wife but his daughter. When she was found dead in a pool of blood one morning after Stalin had publicly humiliated her, the official version was suicide, but many believe she was murdered. The young Molotov couple lived in the same Kremlin building as the Stalins. After the death of Nadezhda, Molotov's wife, Pa

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although news stories report that this ``Kitty Kelley-ish'' peekaboo sold 2.5 million copies in Russia, American readers are apt to find Vasilieva's expose of the lives of Kremlin wives (and their husbands) boring. And whatever scandals she includes smack of irresponsible journalism, for Vasilieva, a member of the nomenklatura who had access to official files, supplies no documentation for her most awesome contentions. For example, she speculatively attributes the 1932 suicide of Stalin's wife Nadezhda to her discovery that her husband was her father. There's a great deal about the lasciviousness of Beria, Stalin's hatchetman, none of it new. The majority of the Kremlin women Vasilieva focuses on, in any case, aren't of great moment to American readers. And Tatyana Andropov and Raisa Gorbachev are given so little attention one wonders at Vasilieva's rare restraint. Photos. (Aug.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
The history of the Soviet period has been written largely in terms of men in leadership positions, with women's roles remaining poorly covered. Vasilieva, a journalist and daughter of a privileged military family, attempts to fill a real void, but she has provided more speculation than substance. Her research is based on extensive interviews with the subjects or their surviving relatives, archival records, and KGB files on those women who were tried during the Great Purge. Some of the subjects, such as Krupskaya (Lenin's wife), Nina Khrushchev, and Raisa Gorbachev, are already well known. Vasilieva attempts to titillate her readers, but the portraits she crafts are cardboard. Popular collections may have some demand, but others should wait for a better work on the topic. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/94.]-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Lisa Orzepowski
The Soviet Union has a long history of political secrets. Even with glasnost and perestroika, most information was discarded, shredded, or buried along with the deceased leaders and informants. However, recently opened KGB files have exposed interviews, letters, memoirs, and correspondences of the wives and mistresses of Soviet leaders. From Nadezhda Krupskaya to Paulina Zhemchuzhina to Raisa Gorbachev, these women, privy to top secret information, reveal thoughts, behaviors, and, their impetus for many fearless actions in the Communist bloc. Murder, religious discrimination, deception, and widespread philandering by their husbands were not uncommon to these women. Kremlin wives lived more like prisoners than the princesses they were depicted to be. True tales and compelling confessions as such are retold by the author from the wives' perspective. Similar to spying in open diaries, sneaking through the Kremlin, and opening vaults of sealed files, this book is intriguing and historically poignant.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559702607
Publisher:
Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
08/19/1994
Edition description:
1st North American ed
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.97(d)

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