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Lenin [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Robert Service

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16. April 2010 0330518380 978-0330518383
Lenin is a colossal figure whose influence on twentieth-century history cannot be underestimated. Robert Service has written a calmly authoritative biography on this seemingly unknowable figure. Making use of recently opened archives, he has been able to piece together the private as well as the public life, giving the first complete picture of Lenin. This biography simultaneously provides an account of one of the greatest turning points in modern history. Through the prism of Lenin's career, Service examines events such as the October Revolution and the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, the one-party state, economic modernisation, dictatorship, and the politics of inter-war Europe. In discovering the origins of the USSR, he casts light on the nature of the state and society which Lenin left behind and which have not entirely disappeared after the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991. 'Immensely scholarly but also vivid and readable. This is a splendid book, much the best that I have ever read about Lenin ...I was overwhelmed by the power and vividness of this portrait' - Dominic Lieven, "Sunday Telegraph". 'He has managed skilfully to depict the surreal life of an obsessive, brilliant and stubborn individual' - "Guardian". 'Lenin's life was politics, but Service has succeeded in keeping Lenin the man in focus throughout ...This book deserves a place among the best studies of one of the most fascinating figures in modern history' - Harold Shukman, "The Times".

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Few political reputations have collapsed quite as quickly as that of Lenin, the ideological guru of Russian Communism, the hero of the revolution of October 1917, and the first leader of the Soviet Union. Just as the Berlin Wall was pulled to the ground, so were thousands of statues of Lenin toppled across Eastern Europe and the new Russia in the early 1990s. But now that the dust has settled, and the Cold War is over, historians can be more objective about the life and achievements of Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov (Lenin was his adopted revolutionary name). Robert Service's book is the first major biography of Lenin for several decades and it benefits from the thaw that has opened up previously inaccessible material, particularly on Lenin's family and his medical history. Born into a wealthy family of landowners, lawyers and government officials, Lenin's revolutionary path was marked out when his elder brother was executed for his part in an assassination plot on the Tsar. From that point on, aided by his sisters, his wife and a loyal but argumentative band of Bolshevik followers, Lenin committed himself to the overthrow of the Tsarist regime, enduring exile, prison and ostracism in the process. This compelling and action-packed book brings Lenin and Leninism to life in a way that no previous account has managed to do. --Miles Taylor -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


The best place to begin assessing Boshevism's founder is the work of the British historian Robert Service. The present volume, "Lenin: A Biography," is the fourth the author has devoted to his lifelong subject, its three predecessors, published between 1985 and 1995, being a meticulous chronicle of Lenin's political life. Yet the past decade has produced sufficient archival material to make possible a biography of Lenin the man, and this is the new volume's task. It may also serve as a summary of the preceding trilogy, to which readers can refer back for fuller details at any point...Even in Russia, historians prefer Service's nuanced and judicious account to the more sensational work of the late Dmitri Volkogonov, as well as to the standard Western treatments. Indeed, Service is consciously writing against the predominant Lenin canon in both East and West...ÝHe seeks to reconstruct Lenin's motives historically, decision by decision, as the settings of his action changed. Moreover, his analysis has been refined by the vicissitudes of time. -- Martin Malia "New York Review of Books" (11/01/2001)

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Amazon.com: 4.1 von 5 Sternen  42 Rezensionen
88 von 103 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A bit disappointed... 24. Februar 2001
Von Mark Robson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This new biography benefits from Service's access to the Central Party archives and thus new information about Lenin. In particular, it seems that Service was able to ferret out previously restricted correspondence relating to Lenin's early life and interpersonal relationships. From these, the author has been able to begin to "humanize" a man who has been reduced nearly to the level of caricature by both his apologists and his critics. Service's major contribution is to illuminate the influence of Lenin's early life on his subsequent character development. At times, however, this psycho-biography becomes breathlessly speculative, as when the author hypothesizes that the execution of the Romanovs represented Lenin's revenge for the hanging of his older brother as a regicide, and the subsequent ostracism suffered by the Ulyanov family. Perhaps, but there were a number of other, more logical (if cynical) grounds for this action. Claiming that Lenin "enjoyed-really enjoyed-letting himself loose against people in general from the ancien regime" seems to be stretching the bounds of evidence a bit far. Also, the running commentary regarding the psychological origins and consequences of the twists and turns of Lenin's relationships with his wife, sisters, and Inessa Armand is worthy of the old-time Kremlin watchers. While interesting, the speculations are often extrapolated from the flimsiest of evidence. In these days of celebrity biography, this may well sell books, but it does not strike me as being particularly well-written history.
These quibbles aside, my major concern about this work is that the author fails to clearly address larger historical questions in writing this popular style of biography. Lenin is portrayed (accurately) as an emigre' factionalist who consistently staked out the most extreme positions, and yet is is never made clear, at least to this reader, how he came to win the series of factional disputes that ultimately lead to his assuming the position of leader of the October Revolution. How did a movement that was directed toward the overthrow of autocracy come to accept the supposition that a regime of dictatorship and terror were necessary to achive this goal? While a work describing the details of Marxist-Leninist ideology would be unbearably turgid, this book would have benefited from at least a coherent distillation of that philosophy, and a clear exposition of the differences between the various factions. The book would also have been stronger if there had been a firmer editorial hand. In many places, previous insights or speculations are repeated nearly verbatim, and temporal linearity is not always well-preserved. In addition, major figures, such as Stalin, Martov and Kerenski, suddenly appear (Stalin) or disappear (Martov, Kerenski)from the narrative, without either introduction or farewell.
In general then, this is an interesting work that sheds more light on the human aspect of that mausoleum-bound icon that the world recognizes as Lenin. But readers seeking a clearer understanding of the process of the Russian Revolution would be better served elsewhere.
34 von 39 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Excellent Portayal 4. Oktober 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Robert Service paints the most in-depth portrait of the life of Lenin that I have ever read. He takes readers no only through the trials and tribulations of Lenin's everyday life, but also into an analyzed look into his beliefs and interpretations of Marxism that were the foundations of his life. Service keeps the reader enthralled in his book with an intelligent and imaginative writing style that did not let me put his book down. Being a student in Russian studies, I was thoroughly impressed by Service's account of one of the most influential character's in history. Readers should know that this book not only covers Lenin's life, but also the history of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the theory of Marxism and Communism. Those who are not familiar with these subjects may find the book difficult to read since it assumes a lot of knowledge from the reader. However, those who know Russia will find the book extremely insightful.
37 von 43 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Biography of the "bookish fanatic" who led a revolution 18. Juli 2002
Von Virgil - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Service is a British historian of Soviet Russian history who has written this quite good narrative of the life of Lenin. While not definitive, it is nevertheless the best synthesis of the political and personal life of Lenin
One of the better reasons to read Service is that while he has no qualms about outlining the viciousness and brutality of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, he is also not a hard line ideologue. He is a historian and he takes history as he finds it. There is none of the strident cold-war dogmatism of Conquest or the russophobia of Pipes that often make their writings come uncomfortably close to political diatribes rather than analytical histories.
Service walks the fine line between personal and political biography fairly well. He also has the added bonus of being a good narrative historian which makes this an immensily readable book.
Lenin's early life is covered in good detail. What Service does well is to show how, after brother Alexander's excecution, the Ulyanovs were marginalized by the very class of society they had aspired to, and how this effected both Lenin and his sisters. Service goes on to show the interaction between Lenin and his female relatives and how this carried on throughout his life.
Being a total biography- personal and political- the political side gets a bit of a short shrift at times. Lenin as shown as the "bookish fanatic" and hypocondriact who is all revolution all the time with little time to spare in life for other diversions.
His single-mindedness is such that he dictates executions (never naming individuals just groups) to achieve his ends. What Service show best is how his temperament in childhood carried on to his political life- never brooking disagreement- throwing tantrums and denounciations- and rarely compromising.
And yet Lenin is at heart, a middle class bourgeois in his social manners. His personal relationships with women are not especially notorious save for a life-long relationship with Inessa Armand who may or may not have been his mistress.
Personal without being gossipy and showing Lenin's idiocincracies without being psychoanalytical, Service handles his biography well. All in all this is a highly readable, not perfect, but enjoyable biography of the life of one of the century's most notorious figures.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Balanced, definitive biography 15. März 2007
Von Peter J. Adams - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Like Lenin's life, this book goes through slow, quiet times as well as periods of frenetic activity. Especially interesting are sections on Lenin's childhood and family, the October Revolution itself, and Lenin's final political struggle with Stalin as he battled his failing health. The chapters dealing with his nearly 20 years in exile are a bit of a slog, but do necessary justice to this phase of his life and illustrate that Lenin spent most of his adult life in petty but ruthless fights with other Bolsheviks.

Robert Service does not paint a pretty picture, but no honest biographer could with the today's open archives. Lenin was ruthless in pursuit of his socialist vision, destroying political rivals, horrifying many erstwhile allies with his ferocity, and never hesitant to use violence, and deceit. A bookish intellectual, Lenin advocated terror but let others do his dirty work. Lenin demonstrated remarkable tactical flexibility (several amazing flip flops are documented) even when his primary goals and assumptions never changed. As a young man, Lenin refused to engage in famine relief work with his family noting that peasant suffering and starvation will push Russia through necessary stages of economic development towards the inevitable communist utopia. With this, and other similar episodes, Service argues that Lenin was motivated more by hatred and revenge towards the tsarist regime than any sympathy towards the poor.

The book is quite successful as a biography in that it gives you a feel for Lenin's personality, family, likes and dislikes. He has a cosmopolitan love for European culture and a general disdain for all things Russian. Lenin is fastidious, cannot stand noise while working, and is obsessive about keeping his pencils sharp. His outward politeness disguised an inner ruthlessness. He is something of a spoiled "wonder child", adored and idolized by his mother, sisters, and wife. The biography does justice to the complexity of Lenin's character, and Service occasionally allows himself a little affection for his subject without ever condoning or whitewashing the horrors he perpetrated.

Note this is primarily a biography of Lenin, not a history of the Russian Revolution. Lenin's contributions and reactions to key events are given more attention than narration of the events themselves. Depending on your interests, you may want to consult a general history of the Russian Revolution instead of, or in addition to, this book. Sheila Fitzpatrick's "The Russian Revolution" is a concise and solid introduction.

This may be the best all-purpose Lenin biography out there. The treatment of Lenin is balanced, and Service presents alternative viewpoints fairly even when he dismisses them in favor of his own opinions. I preferred it to Volkogonov's biography, which is really directed at a Russian audience.
18 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen To Date, the Definitive Biography 28. November 2000
Von Robert Morris - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Service has apparently examined, absorbed, and digested virtually all of the resources available before setting to work on the writing of this book. I rate it so highly for two reasons: it seems to be the definitive biography of one of the most influential political leaders of the 20th century, and, it anchors its reader in an historical context within which Lenin's influence can be seen in a proper perspective. For me, Service answers two separate but related questions: Why Lenin rather than someone else? Also, what was his subsequent impact on what became the U.S.S.R.? While answering these two questions, Service also helps his reader to understand at least some of the forces which still have influence, not only on the former member states of the U.S.S.R. but also on the contemporary world with which they continue to interact.
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