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Essential Works of Lenin: "What Is to Be Done?" and Other Writings Paperback – May 1, 1987

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation)

About the Author

V. I. Lenin (18701924) was a leader of the Russian Revolution and wrote extensively on the issues facing the working-class movement of his time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; First Edition edition (May 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486253333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486253336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a great intro to Lenin, in his own words, so you don't have to care about anyone else's bias and you see for yourself what the man is all about. Further reading that would complement this would be 'Lenin's Struggle For A Revolutionary International'.
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Format: Paperback
This is the book to start with if you with to understand the great man who was Vladimir Ilych Lenin. This book contains 3 of Lenin's greatest works, those being What Is To Be Done?, Imperialism : The Highest Stage of Capitalism, and The State and Revolution. It also includes The Development of Capitalism in Russia, which explains what the title states. My only dissappointment with this book is that it did not contain Left-wing Communism : An Infantile Disorder. Read this book and get to know the real Vladimir Ilych Lenin.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book consists of several shorter books:THE DEVELOPMENT OF CAPITALISM IN RUSSIA (excerpts), WHAT IS TO BE DONE?, IMPERIALISM: THE HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM, and THE STATE AND REVOLUTION. Topics discussed are trade unions, the new role of banks, imperialism, the decay of capitalism, and a Marxist view of the state.
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The Essential Works of Lenin does provide a remarkably concise introduction to Lenin's thought. It will not be easy for the novice reader, so a perusal of The Communist Manifesto, or other introductory writings will be important to get a firm grasp on Lenin's Marxist views. The final 90 page chapter "The State and Revolution" may be the most accessible and intelligible of Lenin's views; much of the earlier portions of this 364 page book deal with Lenin's critique of other socialists who have deviated from true Marxism (this is the most difficult part to read, because it assumes a knowledge of his historical context). The book then, is a good one, but introductory exposure to Marxist thought will help. It does provide a valuable, concise biography of Lenin in the introduction.
That aside, let us turn to a critique of Lenin's thought. Lenin was a very intelligent critic of capitalism, with many penetrating insights into the function and abuses of a capitalist economy. It is not that Marxism was based on a complete illusion, but that it was based on a partially-true, compelling illusion that perhaps makes it so seductive, and so dangerous. I dissent, for example, in thinking that only the "dictatorship of the proletariat" can supplant the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and that somehow a freer, fuller democracy will result from a worker-managed society in which the state will subsequently "wither away." History demonstrated that instead of withering away, the Communists party only solidified its tyranny over the masses, and substituted one dictatorship for another. That Lenin or Marx possessed a real historical "science" of political-economy I think has been disproved.
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Some of the material was heady. Imperialism: The Final Stage of Capitalism was fantastic, and is relevant to this modern era post 2010. A century later and Lenin's work has much relevance. The last book contained within "The State and Revolution" summed up what is to be done, how and why. The other work assist with building up to the two I mentioned above, but are still good reads for one who has a curiosity of communism. The book also assists with understanding capitalism, and how the East views the West.
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Format: Paperback
The Collected Works of Lenin constitute 45 volumes, and even that is missing a few items. A lot of writings and speeches for someone whose life ended at 54 (and he was totally incapacitated by a stroke for most of the year before that). A lot of people manage to find in Lenin things that aren't there; both the Stalinists and the anti-communists portray him as a ruthless single leader, who allowed no criticism, who no one dared challenge, and as one who if he wasn't exactly like Stalin, paved the way for him. It's just that one puts a plus where the other puts a minus.

Lenin cannot be understood outside of the world he lived in, nor can he be understood without also reading the writings of his collaborators and other contemporary revolutionaries like Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg.

"The Development of Capitalism in Russia" is not given in full, but it's basic for understanding how Lenin viewed Russia; it still had a feudal structure, but the economy was more and more becoming capitalist.

If you read "What Is To Be Done?" convinced that it's a handbook for a monolithic party, you will manage to find it even though it's not there. Yes, it's for greater centralization, but what you had was scattered groups around Russia with no central organization and no national underground newspaper. At the time Lenin wrote this, his model of a party was still the German Social Democratic Party, which once had to function underground, and still was able to make enormous gains during that period. But most of "What Is To be Done?
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