Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror

Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror

by Victor Sebestyen


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Victor Sebestyen's riveting biography of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin—the first major biography in English in nearly two decades—is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the twentieth century but also a fascinating portrait of Lenin the man.

Brought up in comfort and with a passion for hunting and fishing, chess, and the English classics, Lenin was radicalized after the execution of his brother in 1887. Sebestyen traces the story from Lenin's early years to his long exile in Europe and return to Petrograd in 1917 to lead the first Communist revolution in history. Uniquely, Sebestyen has discovered that throughout Lenin's life his closest relationships were with his mother, his sisters, his wife, and his mistress. The long-suppressed story told here of the love triangle that Lenin had with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his beautiful, married mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a more complicated character than that of the coldly one-dimensional leader of the Bolshevik Revolution.

With Lenin's personal papers and those of other leading political figures now available, Sebestyen gives is new details that bring to life the dramatic and gripping story of how Lenin seized power in a coup and ran his revolutionary state. The product of a violent, tyrannical, and corrupt Russia, he chillingly authorized the deaths of thousands of people and created a system based on the idea that political terror against opponents was justified for a greater ideal. An old comrade what had once admired him said that Lenin "desired the good . . . but created evil." This included his invention of Stalin, who would take Lenin's system of the gulag and the secret police to horrifying new heights.

In Lenin, Victor Sebestyen has written a brilliant portrait of this dictator as a complex and ruthless figure, and he also brings to light important new revelations about the Russian Revolution, a pivotal point in modern history.

(With 16 pages of black-and-white photographs)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101974308
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 197,258
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

VICTOR SEBESTYEN was born in Budapest. He has worked as a journalist on many British newspapers including The Times, the Daily Mail, and the London Evening Standard, where he was foreign editor and editorial writer. He has also written for many American publications, including The New York Times, and was an editor at Newsweek. He is author of Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire, and 1946: The Making of the Modern World.

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Excerpted from "Lenin"
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Copyright © 2018 Victor Sebestyen.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

Maps xi–xvii
List of Illustrations xix
Introduction 1
Prologue: The Coup d’État 7
1 A Nest of Gentlefolk 25
2 A Childhood Idyll 33
3 The Hanged Man 42
4 The Police State 49
5 A Revolutionary Education 58
6 Vladimir Ilyich – Attorney at Law 68
7 Nadya – A Marxist Courtship 76
8 Language, Truth and Logic 82
9 Foreign Parts 86
10 Prison and Siberia 92
11 Lenin Is Born 107
12 Underground Lives 121
13 England, Their England 127
14 What Is to Be Done? 138
15 The Great Schism – Bolsheviks and Mensheviks 145
16 Peaks and Troughs 154
17 An Autocracy Without an Autocrat 159
18 Back Home 171
19 ‘Expropriate the Expropriators’ 179
20 Geneva – ‘An Awful Hole’ 192
21 Inessa – Lenin in Love 202
22 Betrayals 215
23 A Love Triangle – Two into Three Will Go 224
24 Catastrophe – The World at War 231
25 In the Wilderness 240
26 The Last Exile 253
27 Revolution – Part One 258
28 The Sealed Train 271
29 To the Finland Station 285
30 The Interregnum 291
31 ‘Peace, Land and Bread’ 301
32 The Spoils of War 310
33 A Desperate Gamble 316
34 The July Days 320
35 On the Run 329
36 Revolution – Part Two 339
37 Power – At Last 346
38 The Man in Charge 358
39 The Sword and Shield 367
40 War and Peace 372
41 The One-Party State 380
42 The Battle for Grain 392
43 Regicide 401
44 The Assassins’ Bullets 410
45 The Simple Life 421
46 Reds and Whites 436
47 Funeral in Moscow 451
48 The ‘Internationale’ 457
49 Rebels at Sea and on Land 464
50 Intimations of Mortality 476
51 Revolution – Again 483
52 The Last Battle 488
53 ‘An Explosion of Noise’ 500
54 Lenin Lives 503
Principal Characters 511
Notes 519
Select Bibliography 538
Acknowledgements 548
Index 551

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