biography lenin

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Peter Pan
biography lenin
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I'm looking for a good biography on Lenin's life.

I've read an article on Lenin and his biographers and there seems to be no 'definite' biography on Lenin yet, which is logical given his historical role.

What do you suggest/recommend?

mikail firtinaci
lars lih

Lars Lih book is interesting and poses some new questions on Lenin's politics as well. Worth reading. It is short and I am sure it is possible to find a free e-book copy of it as well.

regarding Lenin's ideas on

regarding Lenin's ideas on the party, I found Hal Draper's essay very illuminating:


I just ordered the 2011 book Lenin by Lars Lih. Is that the one you are referring to Mikhail?

mikail firtinaci
Yes, that is one of the new

Yes, that is one of the new books on lenin that are listed in Paul le Blanc's review. I "think" that Lih's new internpretation is really close to CPGB style neo-Kautskyians -though I don't know much about the cpgb. However I think Lih is simply an independent and serious historian of the Russian revolutionary movement. His Lenin Rediscovered is also very interesting and also freely downloadable from the internet. I think a review of his work would be great. it triggered a huge huge debate in the small milleu of "still-Lenin-reading-people". John Riddell, John Marot, P. Blanc and many other academic leftists and trots were drawn into the discussion on his work. This was a 2-3 years ago and I think many are still interested in the issue...

Peter Pan
Older biographies?

My purposes are:

  1. better grasp the concrete flow of historical events since the 1880s until (broadly speaking) the 1930s
  2. better understand the role of Lenin in all these stages and the accompanying arguments (not just the well known decisive moments)
  3. better understand what kind of personality Lenin had and how this expressed itself in this flow of events

To me it is very important to see how the political standpoints and communist principles that we defend as internationalist, marwist, communists, have developed and expressed themselves concretely in history.

I could read a book on the second international, or on the first world war or on the revolution of 1917, but it is very difficult to read on the first world war or the Revolution of 1917, without knowing what happened before all that and what parties, groups and political tendencies existed. Also difficult to understand are all the controversies and discussions that were held, in response to historical events, e.g. revolutionary war instead of peace, which was defended by the left-bolsheviks in 1918. Biographies are a great help, because they are mostly chronoligcal and not per theme. They tend to be detailed and concrete. Or at least, I think a good biographer should pass on the dominant state of mind and the personality of the protagonist by describing events concretely and with enough details.

Off course, no book is perfect, but I need a good starting point to tackle Lenin. I am also very attracted to the biography written by Lars T Lih. I am however a bit sceptical, because of his minor emphasis on internationalism (according to the writer of the review that I've reffered to above).

I was wondering if their are any "classic" biographies on Lenin, comparable to the biography on Marx, written by Mehring, or the biography on Trotsky, written by Isaac Deutscher, or the biography on Luxemburg, written by Fröhlich.

Rev. grts.

Peter Pan
defender of Lenin, but a leninist/trotskist

Now I think that it would be great to read a biography defending Lenin as arevolutionary marxist (so generally speaking, I'm not speaking of this or that event or quote), but not from a leninist or a trotkyist point of view. But I guess that only the communist left does this and that no group or individual of the communist left has written a full biography on Lenin. Or am I wrong?


In Lars Lih's introduction he mentions the multivolume Vladimir Ilich Lenin: Biograficheskaia Khronika of over 8,000 pages of exactly what he did on everyday where they have the information.

Lenin Rediscovered can be read/downloaded here for free:


Not me. But I have recently stumbled across a Victor Serge biography which can be at least partly read here:

Biographies on VI Lenin


A very good political biography in english on Lenin is - Neil Harding: -

"Lenin's Political Thought"  (Volume 1: "Theory and Practice in the Democratic Revolution")   Macmillan Press: ISBN 0  333 21288 6.

There are two volumes, I have'nt read the second, but the first is a superb, if academic, study of Lenin's work in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. It deals with the split in the Party in 1903, the defence of Marxist orthodoxy, what consitutes a Party member and the role of the Press. I cannot recommend this book enough, it has a political analysis with historical verifiction.

It's correct that there are no biographies of Lenin written by comrades of the Communist Left. However, it's interesting to note that Herman Gorter's -"Reply to Comrade Lenin" in response to Lenin's "Left Wing Communism" is a reply to a party comrade and friend, unlike the anarchist and councilist hacket-jobs on Lenin. Likewise, Pannekoek and Rosa Luxemburg in the period of the Russian Revolution polemicised with Lenin as a party comrade.