Harlan Robinson - New York Times Book Review
“Surprisingly lyrical and free of bitterness, her tale belongs to the unfortunately rich and long tradition of Russian prison literature. . . . [The memoirs] provide a rare look into the innermost circle of the Bolshevik Revolution's doomed founding fathers.”
The New Yorker
“This memoir is sure to endure. Written with the passion of an acolyte and the attention of a witness, it adds a unique angle of vision to what we know of the cruelty and absurdity of the Stalin era. . . . An astonishing account that loses very little for [Anna Larina's] being blindly in love with its hero.”
Robert Conquest - New York Review of Books
“Stephen Cohen's introduction is a model of its kind, giving not only the political and human background, but also describing his own relations with Larina and the Bukharin family.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This remarkable memoir by the widow of Bolshevik leader Nikolai Bukharin, a critic of Stalin's dictatorial regime, is at once a love story, a family tale and a harrowing record of 20 years in the Gulag. Larina, adopted daughter of an economic adviser to Lenin, lived in the Kremlin and sent girlish love notes to Bukharin through Stalin. In 1937 Bukharin, her husband of three years, was arrested. Vilified in a Moscow show trial, he was executed in 1938. Larina, now near 80, spent two decades in prisons, labor camps and under house arrest in Siberia. Her son Yury, taken from her when only a year old in 1937, grew up in orphanages. In this disjointed yet moving memoir, published in Moscow in 1988, she recalls her wrenching reunion with Yury and describes her campaign to rehabilitate her husband's reputation. She passionately defends Bukharin, a founder of the Leninist one-party dictatorship, portraying him as politically naive and blind to Stalin's nature. Despite her bias, her book is a prime source on the original Soviet ruling elite. Princeton Sovietologist Cohen, in a valuable introduction, defends the potential relevance of Bukharin's ``socialist humanism'' for postcommunist Russia. Photos. (Mar.)
A founding father of the Soviet Union, Bukharin (1888-1938) was the Communist Party's leading theoretician and principal advocate of economic gradualism. Twenty-five years his junior, his wife, Larina, watched helplessly as he paid the ultimate price for ``crimes against the state.'' She herself endured two decades in the gulag. Fortunately, Larina has lived long enough to witness Bukharin's official exoneration and the actual publication of these fascinating memoirs (skillfully introduced by Sovietologist Stephen Cohen). Her account describes many moving moments, including the separation from her infant son and the final farewell to her husband. As a tantalizing bonus, Larina offers numerous first-hand recollections of Stalin and his henchmen. Her memoir is absolutely unforgettable. It stands with Eugenia Ginsburg's Journey into the Whirlwind (1967) and Nadezhda Mandelstam's Hope Against Hope ( LJ 11/1/70) as prime examples of a tragic Soviet genre.-- Mark R. Yerburgh, Fern Ridge Community Lib., Veneta, Ore.
[Larina's] account of her own and her husband's travails is unique in its provenance from such high circles, and… highly illuminating on her fate as one of the millions of victims of the terror. Stephen Cohen's introduction is a model of its kind, giving not only the political and human background, but also describing his own relations with Larina and the Bukharin family.
New York Review of Books
A monumental narration of the travails of Russian Communism, served up by the widow of one of its first foundersand victims. Larina grew up in a family of prominent socialist intellectuals: Her father, a well-known economist and a close friend of Lenin's, served as a mentor to an entire generation of young revolutionaries. One of these, Nikolai Bukharin, became Larina's husband and part of the inner circle of the Bolshevik leadership. After the 1917 revolution, Bukharin worked as an adviser to Lenin during the turmoil of the civil war and its aftermath, and was ultimately responsible for many of the ideas embodied in Lenin's New Economic Policy of the early 1920's. Stalin's rise to power, however, carried an enduring chill into Russia's political atmosphere and doomed the careers and lives of anyone whose prominence or charisma seemed to threaten the elaborate "cult of personality" that maintained the dictator's authority. Bukharin was one of the earliest victims, denounced as a traitor and "convicted" of absurd and incredible crimes at one of the most elaborate show trials of the era. After his execution in 1938, Larina's life became an uninterrupted chronicle of harassment and exile: as a chesir (the relative of a counter- revolutionary), she was separated from her son and interned in one gulag after another for the next 30 years. Larina's memoir, though, is measured, vivid, and strikingly free of malice; her tone throughout is one of absolute self-reliance, the sustaining confidence of a thoroughly independent woman who believed all along that the day of her vindication would ultimately arrive. Exceptionally moving and strong: an eloquent statement of humanendurance and superhuman faith. (Photographsnot seen.)