In the immediate aftermath of the Revolution, the Western powers were anxious to prevent the spread of Bolshevism across Europe. Lenin and Trotsky were equally anxious that the Communist vision they were busy introducing in Russia should do just that. But neither side knew anything about the other. The revolution and Russia’s withdrawal from the First World War had ensured a diplomatic exodus from Moscow and the usual routes to vital information had been closed off. Into this void stepped an extraordinary collection of opportunists, journalists and spies – sometimes indeed journalists who were spies and vice versa: in Moscow Britain’s Arthur Ransome, the American John Reed and Sidney Reilly – ‘Ace of Spies’ – all traded information and brokered deals between Russia and the West; in Berlin, Paris and London, the likes of Maxim Litvinov, Adolf Ioffe and Kamenev tried to infiltrate the political elite and influence foreign policy to the Bolsheviks' advantage. Robert Service, acclaimed historian and one of our finest commentators on matters Soviet, turns his meticulous eye to this ragtag group of people and, with narrative flair and impeccable research, reveals one of the great untold stories of the twentieth century.
Lenin is a colossal figure whose influence on twentiethcentury 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 MarxismLeninism, the oneparty state, economic modernisation, dictatorship, and the politics of interwar 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 istory' Harold Shukman, The Times
Drawing on a wealth of unexplored material - available for the first time since the collapse of the former Soviet Union - Robert Service's biography of Stalin is the most authoritative yet published. It concentrates not simply on Stalin as dedicated bureaucrat or serial political killer, but on a fuller assessment of his formative interactions in Georgia, his youthful revolutionary activism, his relationship with Lenin, with his family, and with his party members. 'This is effectively the first full biography since perestroika to encompass the economic, political, diplomatic, military, administrative and, above all, ideological dimensions, as well as the personal aspects of Stalin's colossal life . . . Gritty and unshowy, but enlightened by Service's compelling characterisation, magisterial analysis and dry wit, this outstanding biography of lightly worn authority, wide research and superb intuition will be read for decades' Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of STALIN: The Court of the Red Tsar Sunday Times
Almost two decades have passed since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR. Robert Service, one of our finest historians of modern Russia, sets out to examine the history of communism throughout the world. His uncomfortable conclusion and an important message for the twentyfirst century – is that although communism in its original form is now dead or dying, the poverty and injustice that enabled its rise are still dangerously alive. Unsettling, compellingly written and brilliantly argued, this is a superb work of history and one that demands to be read. ‘Bears all the hallmarks of a classic work of historical literature … the true international legacy of communism [is] analysed to magisterial effect in this exhilarating work’ Hwyel Williams New Statesman ‘One of the bestever studies of the subject … a remarkable accomplishment’ Economist ‘An outstanding book, written with grace and style’ Daily Telegraph ‘[A] brilliantly distilled world history of communism … Confronted by Service's amazing array of evidence to show that commuism could only ever have flourished under conditions of extreme and allpervasive oppression, only the determinedly softheaded would try to argue with him’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
Revolutionary practitioner, theorist, factional chief, sparkling writer, ‘ladies’ man’ (e.g., his affair with Frieda Kahlo), icon of the Revolution, antiJewish Jew, philosopher of everyday life, grand seigneur of his household, father and hunted victim, Trotsky lived a brilliant life in extraordinary times. Robert Service draws on hitherto unexamined archives and on his profound understanding of Russian history to draw a portrait of the man and his legacy, revealing that though his followers have represented Trotsky as a pure revolutionary soul and a powerful intellect unjustly hounded into exile by Stalin and his henchmen. The reality is very different, as this masterful and compelling biography reveals.