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Lenin by Victor Sebestyen
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Lenin by Victor Sebestyen
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Oct 09, 2018 | ISBN 9781101974308

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    Oct 09, 2018 | ISBN 9781101974308

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  • Nov 07, 2017 | ISBN 9780525499572

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“Sebestyen has managed to produce a first-rate thriller by detailing the cynicism and murderous ambition of the founder of the Soviet Union.”
The New York Times Book Review, “100 Notable Books of 2017”
“An accessible, fair, and marvelously written biography…For anyone interested in an introduction to the world’s greatest revolutionary that draws on the latest research, Mr. Sebestyen’s Lenin would be the place to start.”
–Douglas Smith, The Wall Street Journal

“Can first-rate history read like a thriller? With Lenin: The Man, the Dictator and the Master of Terror, the journalist Victor Sebestyen has pulled off this rarest of feats . . . How did he do it? Start with a Russian version of “House of Cards” and behold Vladimir Ilyich Lenin pre-empt Frank Underwood’s cynicism and murderous ambition by 100 years. Add meticulous research by digging into Soviet archives, including those locked away until recently. Plow through 9.5 million words of Lenin’s “Collected Works.” Finally, apply a scriptwriter’s knack for drama and suspense that needs no ludicrous cliffhangers to enthrall history buffs and professionals alike.”
—Josef Joffe, The New York Times Book Review

—Karl Ove Knausgaard, The New York Times

“The absence of a post-Soviet Lenin biography has finally been corrected, with this brilliant and compelling portrait of the Soviet state’s founder…Sebestyen covers Lenin as a private person as well as a thinker and revolutionary… [this] superb biography is a commentary on how, with even the best of intentions, adoption of a revolutionary ideology can lead to a living hell.”
–Ronald Radosh, The National Review

Lenin is the best biography I’ve read in years. It takes Victor Sebestyen less than five pages to perform the hardest of all literary tricks: making the person he’s writing about seem like a familiar human being.”
–Bob Blaisdell, The Christian Science Monitor 

“An illuminating new biography of the cold, calculating ruler on whom the subsequent Soviet state modeled itself . . . Sebestyen ably captures the man, “the kind of demagogue familiar to us in Western democracies.” A compelling, clear-eyed portrait of a dictator whose politics have unfortunate relevance for today.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Insightful . . . A compelling portrait of an epoch-making figure . . . Readers explore the complexities of [Lenin’s] personality: sophisticated intellectual and shameless demagogue, cerebral logician and emotional rageaholic, sensitive lover of music and callous murderer. But no complexities will fascinate readers more than those characterizing Lenin’s tangled relationships with the women who influenced him. Taking readers deep into a marriage that previous biographers have dismissed as merely functional, Sebestyen illuminates moments of real tenderness—and of painful tension—as Lenin succumbs to the charms of a beautiful émigré, whom he makes his mistress without abandoning his wife.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“[An] excellent, original and compelling portrait of Lenin as man and leader.”
—Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs

“A fresh, powerful portrait of Lenin, and just at the right time: As Bolshevik ideas and tactics return to world politics, Victor Sebestyen focuses our attention on man who invented them.”
—Anne Applebaum, author of Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine      

“A vivid and rounded picture of Lenin the man. Serious and deeply reserved, the great revolutionary had few friends but loved at least two women deeply, and at the same time. Lenin’s life has been told before, but Sebestyen brings to the task a gift for narrative and for describing his rich cast of characters.”
—Margaret MacMillan, The Oldie (UK)

“An entertaining read . . . Sebestyen writes in a lively journalistic style and has an eye for memorable anecdotes and quotations . . . He brings Lenin the man to life and shows persuasively how ‘he was driven by emotion as much as by ideology.'”
—Orlando Figes, The Sunday Times (UK)
“Richly readable . . . Sebestyen does full justice to the astonishing, thriller-like tale of [Lenin’s] return to Russia to organize the October uprising . . . Lenin saw enemies everywhere. Blaming peasant farmers for the shortage of food, he ordered provincial officials to round them up and hang them. Even Josef Stalin was rebuked for not being ‘merciless’ enough . . . An enthralling but appalling story.”
—The Mail on Sunday (UK)

“Sebestyen brings Lenin’s complexities to life, balancing personality with politics in succinct and readable prose, [and] describes particularly keenly how this ruthless, domineering, often vicious man depended on women to sustain him. “
—David Reynolds, The New Statesman (UK)

“Sebestyen, whose family fled Hungary as refugees when he was a child, revives a style of history familiar to the Cold War, in which leading Bolsheviks appear as black sheep in an unhappy eastern bloc family history. Like the Polish-born historian Richard Pipes, his writing is full of caustic asides and asterisks and daggers leading down wormholes of communist lore. His well-sourced narrative feels as if it was honed around kitchen tables for decades before he sat down to write it.”
—Roland Elliott Brown, The Spectator (UK)


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography FINALIST 2018

Plutarch Award SHORTLIST 2018

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