'Twice I missed my stop on the Tube reading this book...this is a jewel among histories' David Aaronovitch, The Times 'Catherine Merridale is one of the foremost foreign historians of Russia, combining wry insights with deep sympathy for the human beings suffering the tragedies she writes about...[Lenin on the Train] combines diplomatic intrigue, spycraft, towering personalities, bureaucratic bungling, military history and ideology.' Economist A gripping account of how, in the depths of the First World War, Russia's greatest revolutionary was taken in a 'sealed train' across Europe and changed the history of the world By 1917 the European war seemed to be endless. Both sides in the fighting looked to new weapons, tactics and ideas to break a stalemate that was itself destroying Europe. In the German government a small group of men had a brilliant idea: why not sow further confusion in an increasingly chaotic Russia by arranging for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the most notorious of revolutionary extremists, currently safely bottled up in neutral Switzerland, to go home?
Catherine Merridale's Lenin on the Train recreates Lenin's extraordinary journey from harmless exile in Zurich, across a Germany falling to pieces from the war's deprivations, and northwards to the edge of Lapland to his eventual ecstatic reception by the revolutionary crowds at Petrograd's Finland Station. With great skill and insight Merridale weaves the story of the train and its uniquely strange group of passengers with a gripping account of the now half-forgotten liberal Russian revolution and shows how these events intersected. She brilliantly uses a huge range of contemporary eyewitnesses, observing Lenin as he travelled back to a country he had not seen for many years. Many thought he was a mere 'useful idiot', others thought he would rapidly be imprisoned or killed, others that Lenin had in practice few followers and even less influence. They would all prove to be quite wrong.
Catherine Merridale's books include Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Russia, which won the Heinemann Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Ivan's War: The Red Army, 1939-45 and Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia's History, which won the Wolfson Prize for History and the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.
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