“Victor Sebestyen has managed to produce a first-rate thriller by detailing the cynicism and murderous ambition of the founder of the Soviet Union.”
Featured in New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2017.
The first notable biography of Lenin to be published in English in the last two decades, Victor Sebestyen’s Lenin does more than just providing political insights into one of history’s most influential figures; it shows us the compelling figure who was Lenin, the man.
Although his upbringing was comfortable included a passion for English literature, chess, fishing, and hunting, he became a radical after his brother was executed in 1887. His early years, his exile in Europe and eventual return to Petrograd in 1917 are all woven into a coherent and compelling tale by Sebestyen. However, Sebestyen also goes a step further and examines Lenin’s personal life and relationships including the close relationships he had with his sisters, his mother, his mistress and his wife. Indeed, it is Sebestyen’s examination of the love triangle between Lenin and the latter two that gives us a glimpse into the complicated man that Lenin was rather than the one-dimensional Bolshevist he is often portrayed as.
Now that the personal papers of Lenin and other leading figures of that era are available, Sebestyen uses them to construct a gripping narrative of the journey that took Lenin from an exile to the leader of a bloody coup that changed the history of the world. The Russia he had grown up in was a corrupt and tyrannical nation, and Lenin was its product, something that can explain why he approved the executions of thousands of people and brought to life a system that believed in inciting political fear in the hearts of his opponents. He laid the foundations for Stalin who took his ideas of the gulag and secret police to new and horrible heights.
Sebestyen’s book reveals personal and professional facets of Lenin that have never been seen before and also gives us new information about the Russian Revolution, a real game-changer.