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Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire [Paperback]

David Remnick
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 26, 1994 0679751254 978-0679751250 Reprint
In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this bestselling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism. "A moving illumination . . . Remnick is the witness for us all." —Wall Street Journal.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"...the most eloquent chronicle of the Soviet empire's demise." --Washington Post Book World

"...an extraordinary confluence of observation, hard work, knowledge, and reflection; a better book by a journalist on the withdrawing roar of the Soviet Union is hard to imagine." --The New York Times Book Review

From Publishers Weekly

An outstanding account of the unravelling of the Soviet empire; with a new afterword by the author.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 26, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679751254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679751250
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Remnick was a reporter for The Washington Post for ten years, including four in Moscow. He joined The New Yorker in 1992 and has been the magazine's editor since 1998. His book King of the World, a biography of Ali, was picked by Time Magazine as the top nonfiction book of 1998. Lenin's Tomb received the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1994.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid account of the supremely confused time March 4, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is a compilation of short stories (each chapter a dozen pages or so) about the author's first-hand experiences in the Gorbachev's Soviet Union. From Baltic to Sakhalin and from coal miners to Gorbachev himself, from Stalin to Yeltsin and from Solzhenitsyn to Sakharov, the book paints the picture of the monolith's fall. This colorful collage describing the critical period in Russian history, combined with keen commentary, creates for the reader the distinct flavor of the time.
For Russia, it was the age of confusion and disillusionment. Gorbachev's half-hearted reforms (the interest in truth ended where the Party interests were concerned, the pursuit of democracy gave way to the pursuit of the runaway republics etc.) were matched by the half-hearted '91 coup (no real plan, no propaganda with the military, Lenin wouldn't have approved).
For generations, Russian people did not know much of the sad history of their country and less still about the life in the West. The blissful ignorance was one thing that helped them in their miserable existence. Their various degrees of belief in the grand ideals were the other. With glasnost, Gorbachev aimed at opening the gates of truth while preserving the faith. In all honesty, it was impossible: the foundation for the faith was thoroughly rotten and relaxing the state control of mass media could only reveal it. All of a sudden, millions of people had to face hard evidence showing that the glorious history of their country never was. That the Bolshevik revolution was but a ruthless coup followed by a bloody terror. That many national heroes, all the way to Lenin, were privilege- and power-hungry maniacs.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding May 16, 2002
By A Customer
Remnick's frank, insightful analysis of the Soviet Union's final days filled me with inspiration and sadness. I'm inspired by the inhuman perseverance of the Russian and Soviet bloc people and saddened by the intense and lethal persecution of millions at the hands of their so-called leaders. Remnick shows a society led by decades of fear - citizens who feared persecution and leaders who feared the loss of power. The author flows easily from dissecting the Communist party and power brokers of Soviet society to eating cabbage with Siberian miners who don't expect to live past 35 to intense discussions with the Russian intelligentsia who fought the system quietly and desperately. It is a long book and at times I found myself needing a Russian history reference guide. But Remnick is not writing a history filled with facts and statistics. It is all about the people. Lenin's Tomb should be read by any journalist who feels the urge to go beyond 8 graphs. Truly wonderful.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Inevitability of Democracy and Freedom March 6, 2000
Remnick's prose makes this history/political science book both readable and entertaining. Arguing that the country's downfall was due to the Soviet leaderships' ongoing assault against its country's collective historical memory and it's feeble attempts to give the country just enough perestroika and glastnost to keep it at bay are chronicled in a series of chapters or themes. Ironically, the limited attempts by Gorbachev to instill some democratic themes was just enough to whet the populace's appetite for more and set the country on a road it could not turn back from. Interestingly, Remnick argues that Gorbachev was at heart, a true communist who only wanted to make adjustments, not change the whole system. One gleans from this whole book that in a modern world, democratization of the body politic is inevitable, once its processes are set in motion. Though the author focuses very little on outside influences contributing to the USS's demise, i.e. the cold war or "evil empire" policies of the U.S. he has written the most compelling account of the country's downfall as orchestrated from within its borders and i nthe process graphically illustrated the moral degradation and vacousness of communisim, its practitioners, and the suffering endured by its people. The Soviet Union was essentially a Third World Country with a first world military, over 80% of the population lived in squalor equal to most thirld world citizens. A stupendous book!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly done: the quintessencial Russia book June 23, 2002
It's hard to imagine there was any dissention from the Pulitzer committee over "Lenin's Tomb". This book excellently combines top-notch journalism and fine, precise, descriptive writing for an increbidly enjoyable and informative read. Considering how most such "good for you" books are long slogs about as exciting as bran, "Lenin's Tomb" was a surprising pleasure.
I came to this book with minimal knowledge of Russia in general, let alone the Soviet transition, and disliking what I had encountered of Russia's culture and people. "Lenin's Tomb" manages to explain the basics to ignorant laypeople like myself without condescending or dragging through too much history. What you need to understand what was happening, Remnick provides, no more and no less.
"Lenin's Tomb" proved an eye opener about the Soviet experience, but it also reflects on the larger ramifications of Communist autocracy. So many of the explorations of the Soviet erosion of society and culture gave me a sense of Deja Vu compared with China, only China has perhaps been less scathed by the shorter span of its bureaucratic red terror. Also, while "Lenin's Tomb" did not make me like Russia or Russians any more, it did present the context of how and why people can be a certain way, so that I now hold it against them less.
"Lenin's Tomb" is almost novelesque in its readability, a page-turner and easily beach or plane fare. I doff my hat to Remnick's ability to carve dense political stuff into an involving, compelling narrative. Perhaps Russia scholars would find points to criticize, but from a journalistic perspective, "Lenin's Tomb" is the book all of us wish we could write.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars For the Russian Political Minded Person
I began reading this with great interest, but it slowly lost my interest since it delves deeply into the political situation in Russia before Putin and after Gorbechov. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Gloria
5.0 out of 5 stars For over 75 years a great nation of people suffered under a history of...
I was visiting/studying in the Soviet Union during the short-lived re-Stalinization of the USSR under Breznhev and the dreary haunting memories came vividly back when reading this... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Robert L. Bridges
3.0 out of 5 stars Still reading it, but find it totally fasinating
I'm not a big fan as to how the book is organized and flows from one chapter to the next, but I strongly endorse the author's efforts. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Henry Bright
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing read
I could not put this book down! Through multiple in depth interviews with individuals across the 9 times zones that is Russia, up and down the economic scale, across the political... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Communism in the Soviet Union and its Aftermath
David Remnick’s book “Lenin’s Tomb…” is a gem; thorough, informative and instructive. He traveled the length and breadth of former Soviet Union countries, interviewed leaders of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bruce E. McLeod Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book
Excellent book on what life was like in Russia under the "Stalin" era and subsequent! I'm glad I'm an American!!!
Published 3 months ago by James W. Thiel
5.0 out of 5 stars Came on time. Good condition
The book came on time and is good condition. This review requires more words. The title said it all - do the want a a review of the story, too. I haven't read it.
Published 3 months ago by James Merry
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading
I have always been interested in the Russian mindset. It is good to read current theories as well as the old. This is very readable and extremely informative.
Published 3 months ago by Carol Petras Shenk
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand in scope and execution
The 1994 Pulitzer Prize winning "Lenin's Tomb" is a must-read for anyone interested in modern Russian history. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Frank J. Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides a Perspective of Current Russian Society
It is intriguing how people still embrace the past falsehood of their society and even justify the outrageous actions of former leadership. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Gregory E Hause
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