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Conspirator: Lenin in Exile Hardcover – February 23, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465013953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013951
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,549,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Russia-specialist Rappaport (The Last Days of the Romanovs) has created a wonderfully thorough and highly interesting account of V.I. Lenin's purposeful wanderings in Europe before the Russian revolution. Lenin emerges as the quintessential fanatic, convinced of his own infallibility as a messiah of Marxism. Charismatic and driven, he captivates individuals and seizes control of the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Viewing himself as the embodiment of revolution, Lenin established underground operations in Munich, Geneva, London, Paris, and numerous other locations while feuding with anyone who dared question his approach (We won't permit the idea of unity [with the Mensheviks] to tie a noose around our necks, he said). His stoically loyal wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya provided her Volodya with constant support as he imposed his will on the Bolsheviks and, ultimately, on an entire nation. Too much attention is given to Lenin's affair with the beautiful, tragic Inessa Armand, but, on the other hand, some may find poetic justice in reading that Lenin very likely died of syphilis. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Following up on The Last Days of the Romanovs (2009), Rappaport here depicts the time abroad, 1900 to 1917, of the revolutionary whose regime delivered the Russian royals their fate. Accompanied by his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and her mother, Vladimir Ulyanov moved regularly around Europe, living a few years in London, several in Paris, and the balance elsewhere. Many works describe Ulyanov’s assertion of his leadership over the most radical faction of Russian socialists; while covering that process, Rappaport emphasizes here Lenin’s—the alias he adopted in this period—personality and support group, so to speak. Rarely working like a true proletarian, Lenin cadged donations, sanctioned bank robberies, and accepted money from Mom to keep going. The author’s arch asides about these variances from the Lenin of Soviet-era mythology compete with her attention to another nonsocialist side to Lenin: his infatuation with a woman named Inessa Armand. Also detailing Lenin’s domiciles, haunts, and habits, and incidents that might have short-circuited history, such as a serious bicycle accident, Rappaport delivers a vital restoration of the real Lenin. --Gilbert Taylor

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Customer Reviews

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I'll just add, hear hear!
All this is narrated by Helen Rappaport with clarity and vivid detail, including much anecdotal incident which places the reader close to the action.
John R. Barham
It is one of the best books I've read on modern history, well on a par with Montefiore's work on Stalin and Service's biography on Lenin.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Marris Macaulay on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Helen Rappaport has taken out the hagiographers of Saint Lenin and put them in front of a firing squad. Conspirator is a refreshingly balanced, "warts and all", look at Lenin's life in exile before the Russian Revolution. The author deftly juxtaposes Lenin's intense and passionate disciples with those who knew him best - his family. One minute we have the Lenin of the fiery three-hour political speech that cast a spell on his "groupies", as his eyes gleamed with a fanatic, almost religious fervor - and the next we have the Lenin of cheap lodgings living on tea and sausage, a workaholic with poor health, exploiting his wife, his mother-in-law and his mistress. No fun for those who lived with him, great for those who were willing to die for his ideas in the coming revolution. I could not put this book down. It combines scholarship with good writing (often, in books like this, you get either one or the other ) but here you get both. Helen Rappaport engages the reader on several levels and the knowledge that all the speeches and suffering will culminate in a successful revolution keeps up the pace. Every so often she fast forwards - like when Lenin pawns a friend's watch because he has no money (again) and years later sends him. a new watch courtesy of the Soviet government. Above all Rappaport does an amazing job in making Lenin human - the reader is both sympathetic toward him and irritated by him by turns - yes, he's a man with a mission that overrides everything else, but he also hikes in the mountains, swims in the river and breathes the same kind of air as you and me. This is a Lenin who puts his pants on one leg at a time whatever is on his mind.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Anton Steinpilz on March 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
(A longer version of this review appears at Generation Bubble. Click my amazon customer profile for details.)

Historian Helen Rappaport *Conspirator: Lenin in Exile* is devoted to Lenin's wilderness years, which numbered sixteen. During his exile Lenin cultivated and honed his nearly superhuman devotion to the cause of Communist Revolution in Russia. Rappaport sets her subject up as a sort of Coriolanus; his proud resolve and immovable convictions frequently sets him at odds with his fellow revolutionaries. Generational as well as doctrinal tensions abound; Lenin frequently found himself at variance with no less a personage than the father of Russian Marxism, Georgy Plekhanov (a man for whom Lenin professed the deepest admiration, their markedly different casts of mind notwithstanding). Less estimable in Lenin's view, however, were the Mensheviks of his own revolutionary cohort, whose desire for a more incremental implementation of communism, which they felt more in keeping with Marx's own prescriptions, clashed with Lenin's own program of what one could call today a sort of "shock-and-awe" approach to founding a workers' paradise.

Of course, the tale of the tape shows that Lenin eventually carried the day, and Rappaport presents plenty of instances of Lenin's demonstrating the very powers that allowed him to do so. When it came to the Mensheviks especially, he was inexorable.

But these traits go to show the complexity of Lenin's character, which managed to harmonize utopian ends with brutal means.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hussain Abdul-Hussain on June 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book from Helen Rapport is not the biography of one of the founders of the Soviet Union. It rather traces every step that Vladimir Ulyanov, later known as Lenin, took since coming of political age until his return to Russia in 1917. From his exile within Russia to his banishment in Europe, Rapport carefully records every minor detail that helped shape the life and thinking of the Soviet-leader-to-be.
Lenin's political activism started in Switzerland where, together with other Russian exiles, he created a "revolutionary" periodical called the Spark. Around his editorial board, Lenin created a political group, which joined other like-minded Marxist factions. With time, however, the other Marxist groups started leaning more toward "change from within" and liberal social democracy, whereas Lenin - a man with an "exceptional sense of purpose" - insisted on a full-fledged revolution that would topple the Russian tsar and replace him with a people's government.
Lenin's job was not easy. The production of his newspaper stumbled due to lack of funds. Its circulation lurched.
Through this book, readers will be introduced to Lenin's daily life. Lenin spent most of his time researching Marxism and economic indicators of countries. He rejected life luxuries and lived - with his wife Nadya and her mother - in austerity. More often than not, Lenin's mother would send him money.
Yet, despite the failure of his indoctrination of the Russian masses through the Spark, and him being outnumbered in the political party he helped found, and despite his impoverished life and his not-very promising political career suffering under the watchful eye of the tsar's secret police, the Okrahna, Lenin rarely despaired, and always dominated over his peers.
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