In the Company of Lenin

Embarking on a study of the Russian revolutionary’s long years in exile, Helen Rappaport unveiled the strangely compelling and sometimes surprising private life of a man

Lenin in 1920.

During my undergraduate days reading Russian Special Studies at Leeds University one of the options we were offered was Soviet history. In love as I then was with the Russia of Tolstoy, the thought of venturing beyond what seemed to me the romantic boundaries of imperial Russia into the drab and depressing waters of Soviet history was anathema. Just the thought of all that political jargon and impossible-to-remember acronyms, not to mention the Marxist theory and interminable party congresses, was discouragement enough. The Soviet theorists and leaders seemed to me then far too complex, too political and – worst of all – far too boring. And Lenin, of all of them, a man whose collected works amounted to 55 volumes of impenetrable socialist dogma, seemed the most unappealing of them all.

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