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Victor Sebestyen’s intimate biography is the first major work in English for nearly two decades on one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century. In Russia to this day Lenin inspires adulation. Everywhere, he continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and who created a new kind of state that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world.

Lenin believed that the ‘the political is the personal’, and while in no way ignoring his political life, Sebestyen’s focus will be on Lenin the man – a man who loved nature almost as much as he loved making revolution, and whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of his ménage a trois with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of legend.

Told through the prism of Lenin’s key relationships, Sebestyen’s lively biography casts a new light the Russian Revolution, one of the great turning points of modern history.

Read by Jonathan Aris

(p) 2017 Orion Publishing Group Ltd


An excellent, original and compelling portrait of Lenin as man and leader
Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of <i>STALIN: THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR</i>
Richly readable ... enthralling but appalling
Francis Wheen, MAIL ON SUNDAY
Victor Sebestyen brings the man's complexities to life in Lenin the Dictator, balancing personality with politics in succinct and readable prose ... Sebestyen describes particularly keenly how this ruthless, domineering, often vicious man depended on three women to sustain him
David Reynolds, NEW STATESMAN
An excellent new biography
The attention to detail is flawless
The story of the Bolshevik revolution is fascinating in several ways, and Sebestyen does a good job of telling it ... entertaining
Tibor Fischer, STANDPOINT
In this new biography, Victor Sebestyen gives a vivid and rounded picture of Lenin the man ... Sebestyen brings to the task a gift for narrative and for describing his rich cast of characters
Margaret MacMillan, THE OLDIE
Victor Sebestyen does an impressive job of telling Lenin's life story ... it is a highly readable overview
In his engagingly written biography the author ... captures all the drama of Lenin's leadership against a background of imperial collapse, the ravages of war and the building of a dictatorship ... the Bolshevik leader emerges from these pages as a man unencumbered by critical self-awareness, by doubts or by any moral conflict over the extraordinary costs inflicted on others by the pursuit of his revolutionary goals
Daniel Beer, GUARDIAN
An enthralling portrait of one of the key figures of the 20th century
MAIL ON SUNDAY </i>Summer Books<i>
Page-turning and enlightening
Victoria Hislop
In this insightful biography, Sebestyen examines the brilliant but ruthless personality whom journalists glorified and shows why the dictatorial government that Lenin imposed on his country made a nationwide cult of personality inevitable ... Readers see a great historical tragedy play out, however, as Russia's dying Red Tsar leaves his most bloody-minded lieutenant in prime position to take over the brutal police state he has forged. A compelling portrait of an epoch-making figure
Bryce Christensen, BOOKLIST starred review
An accessible, fair and marvellously written biography that reinforces what we have learned in the past three decades ... 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
Can first-rate history read like a thriller? With Lenin the Dictator 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
A fresh and powerful portrait of Lenin, and at just the right time. As Bolshevik ideas and tactics return to world politics, Victor Sebestyen focuses our attention on the man who invented them
Anne Applebaum, author of <i>RED FAMINE: STALIN'S WAR ON UKRAINE</i>