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Genesis and Development of a Revolutionary

By (author) Rolf H. W. Theen
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Princeton University Press, New Jersey, United States
Published: 30th Nov 1980
Dimensions: h 230mm
Weight: 399g
ISBN-10: 0691052891
ISBN-13: 9780691052892
Barcode No: 9780691052892

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Kirkus US
There is little to be said for this brief biography of Lenin except that it gives a good sense of his comfortable, intellectually arousing middle-class youth and proficient, well-behaved student years. Since the focus is on Lenin's personal and intellectual growth, one wishes Theen had ended in 1917 at the latest, instead of tacking on some skimpy and superficial chapters on the years of Soviet rule. There is a lot to be said against the book, starting with its tendentious emphasis on Lenin's supposed inheritance from Tkachev, Nechayev, and various 19th-century characters out of The Possessed, while his criticisms of populism are underrated. Theen agrees with other biographers that a key turning point in the young Lenin's life was the execution of his elder brother in 1887 for plotting to assassinate the Czar, but goes on to make the absurd interpretation that six years later, after intensive study and political experience, Lenin had worked his way barely beyond his brother's fuzzy mixture of existentialism, terrorism, and Marxism. Much is made of Lenin's supposed departures from orthodox Marxism, a topic worth discussing, but not with Theen's familiar error that Marx never anticipated that a Russian revolution might come before the Western ones. A superior biography of Lenin remains to be written, yet there are enough adequate studies (including Trotsky's sketch The Young Lenin, 1972) to make this one quite unnecessary. (Kirkus Reviews)