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Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire Audio, Cassette – Unabridged, March, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Remnick was Moscow correspondent for the Washington Post between 1988 and 1991 and later a staffer at the New Yorker. While with The Post he covered events the emergence of perestroika, the taking of power by democrats, the failed Communist counter-coup of August 1991 and beyond. His gripping personal account of that historic period is filled with vivid sketches of people. He writes with passion of the twofold nature of the crimes of Stalinist communism--"murder and the unending assault against memory." His powerful literary style is suggested in the title, the mausoleum holding Lenin's body being a central image in his book for the construction and maintenance of the dead culture of communism. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

An outstanding piece of reportage informed by interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Andrei Sakharov and others, this is an account of the unraveling of the Soviet empire. It shuttles temporally across the disastrous 75-year rule of the Communist Party, and geographically from Siberian mines to Riga, Latvia, where Remnick, a former Washington Post Moscow correspondent, uncovered KGB subterfuge aimed at the Baltic independence movements. His dramatic reconstruction of the botched August 1991 putsch underscores Gorbachev's misjudgment in light of top-level fears that a right-wing coup was an imminent threat. Now a New Yorker staff writer, Remnick met farmers, Eskimos, diehard Stalinists, democratic activists, Party hacks, anti-Semites, homeless men and women, Chernobyl evacuees. He tracked down Gorbachev's high school girlfriend and a CIA agent who defected to the KGB. He portrays Yeltsin as a "theatrical populist" precariously leading an "infinitely fragile" regime. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Books on Tape (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0736667253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736667258
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,088,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gene Zafrin on 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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By A Customer on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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