Lenin, the Man Behind the Mask: A Biography

Ronald Clark, Author HarperCollins Publishers $27.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-015802-6
Lenin approved of armed robbery and forgery to fund the Bolshevik cause. He was impressed by Stalin at their first meeting and helped the latter obtain a position of power. Far from being a supreme dogmatist, Lenin had a surprising talent for bending with the wind. Yet, as late as January 1917, he was obtusely pessimistic about the chances for political and social upheaval in Russia. These are some of Clark's findings in this brilliant, dispassionate biography that separates the man from the myths which cling to him. Biographer of Einstein, Freud, Darwin and Bertrand Russell, Clark (who died shortly after completing this book) argues that Russia might never have recovered form the ravages of WW I if Lenin had not imposed a ruthless reorganization on his country. But the Bolshevik leader's administrative ability, so rare in a revolutionary, must be measured against the bloody terror he endorsed, the author acknowledges. Though his tone is brisk and businesslike, Clark conveys the human side of a zealot whose strong attraction to comrade Inessa Armand apparently prompted his wife Krupskaya to suggest that they separate. Photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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