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Lenin's Jewish Question Hardcover – August 31, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“[Petrovsky-Shtern is] keenly aware of the way that, in today's Russia, Jews continue to be blamed… he tries to set the record straight by proving that, in the key case of Lenin, there was nothing Jewish about the man.”--Ruth Wisse, JewishIdeasDaily.com

(Ruth Wisse JewishIdeasDaily.com)

“This slim volume is fascinating, as the author skillfully reveals the archival evidence about Lenin’s family origins and describes the fate of the evidence and those who had the temerity to try to reveal it against the wishes of the Soviet leadership, from Stalin to Gorbachev.”—Jewish Book World
(Jewish Book World)

“Concise and to the point, this book is for anyone interested in Lenin, the formative years of the Soviet Union, and the impact anti-Semitism had, and continues to have, on Russian history.”—Joseph Segre, The Canadian Jewish News
(Joseph Segre The Canadian Jewish News)

“. . . . excellent book, which is written with great wit and energy and is a simply a pleasure to read.”—Michael C. Hickey, H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews
(Michael C. Hickey H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews)

". . . this fascinating interpretive story of the formation, transformation, and independent life of the phantom of a Jewish Lenin makes an important contribution in the field of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet studies."—Dina Zisserman-Brodsky, The Russian Review
(Dina Zisserman-Brodsky The Russian Review)

"This slim volume, which can be read in one sitting, debunks the myths and should be the last word on the subject."—Eugene M. Avrutin, Slavic Review
(Eugene M. Avrutin Slavic Review)

About the Author

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is associate professor of history and director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University. His previous books include The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew (Yale). He lives in Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300152108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300152104
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,986,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rouvain Bension on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A phrase in the acknowledgments says it best: "...it was an error to write this book...;" and yet, "this" should have been italicized. There is much of value, but most of it belongs, greatly amplified, in other books that should have been--should be--written separately.

It would have been easier to digest the book by first reading the Conclusion, which most clearly answers the question, what is Lenin's Jewish question? The simple answer is, his genealogy. Along the way, though, we run into a two-chapter description and well-supported character assassination of Moshko Blank, Lenin's maternal great-grandfather and last Jewish ancestor, that offers a guided tour of Starokonstantinov, particularly a description of Jewish life there, and of Zhitomir, to which Blank escaped the stifling confines of Starokonstantinov, and its political/economic importance.

After a brief description of his childhood we are introduced to the mature Lenin at his attendance at La Juive, his first encounter with Jews, accompanied by a few de rigueur comments on his lineage. We follow his adventures with--and subsequent manipulation of--Yulii Tsederbaum, his first Jew in the flesh; the Bund; and, of course, anyone else that serves his purpose. This summary of Lenin's development of Bolshevism is interesting and well-written, but its relevance to Lenin himself seems to be limited to a well-documented absence of any special connection to anything Jewish; i.e. Jews are an irrelevant subject. So, it seems thus far, is his lineage.

But then Lenin had to go and die, "entombed as a Russian Orthodox saint in a shrine," whereupon his lineage mattered very much.
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Lenin's Jewish Question
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