Spartacus Review

Volume 37: 23rd September, 2009

Russian History

Title: Conspirator: Lenin in Exile

Author: Helen Rappaport


Publisher: Hutchinson

Price: £20.00

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Lenin


Conspirator is the compelling story of Lenin in exile. It tells how, for seventeen years, he lived a hand-to-mouth existence outside Russia, working towards the upheaval that in 1917 transformed the political landscape of Europe: the Russian Revolution. Constantly watched by the secret police, the arch conspirator and his cohorts were dependent on the protection of a shadowy network of like-minded friends and supporters. Obsessive, penniless and driven, they took huge risks to publish and smuggle back into Russia the samizdat literature that spread their message. Lenin was always on the move, between the great cities of Europe - Paris, London, Geneva, Brussels and Munich - and the rural backwaters of Finland and Poland. He led an uncertain life, often under assumed names, fleeing lodgings at a monent's notice and frequently short of food. Helen Rappaport's lively account describes Lenin’s triumphs and the conflicts, personal and political, with those who shared his exile. She builds up a vivid picture of Russian émigré life and of how Lenin and the Bolsheviks worked to achieve his vision of a Soviet social democracy. She also explores the toll that their extraordinary existence took not just on Lenin but on the loyal group that surrounded him, and particularly on the women in his life: his long-suffering wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, his mother-in-law, and his mistress, Inessa Armand, as well as his mother and sisters back home.