Lenin: The Novel

Alan Brien, Author William Morrow & Company $22.95 (735p) ISBN 978-0-688-07944-4
The idea is bold, the execution accomplished, the size appropriately bulky; and it's a book that could have been written only by someone steeped in and fascinated by his subject. British journalist Brien in fact traveled the length and breadth not only of Leninist literature but of the Soviet Union to bring us Lenin's ``diary.'' It's very virtue as a fictional diary, however, suggests its weakness as a novel: the reader begins to wish for other voices, a stronger presentation of other views, more drama and less account, a little suspense. This Lenin certainly comes across as the genuine article: passionate yet cool-headed, not bloodthirsty yet ruthless in pursuit of his goals (based on the premise that ``No authority ever surrenders except to force''), capable of humor and of admitting his mistakes, distinctly human as compared to his brutal successor Stalin; and we follow him from boyhood to deathas student agitator, Siberian prisoner, exile in Western Europe, mastermind of the October Revolution and head of state thereafter. Of course, Bakunin, Nechaev, Trotsky, Kerensky, Stalin and other familiar figures associated with the revolution walk these pages, as do a thousand less familiar ones, and all are convincingly portrayed. It's an impressive performance, even if it holds the reader's interest without quite gripping it. BOMC alternate. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
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