Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Lenin's Private War

Lenin's Private War

The Voyage of the Philosophy Steamer and the Exile of the Intelligentsia

Lesley Chamberlain




Trade Paperback

In 1922, Vladimir Lenin personally drew up a list of some 160 "undesirable" intellectuals--mostly philosophers, academics, scientists, and journalists--to be deported from the new Soviet State. "We're going to cleanse Russia once and for all" he wrote to Stalin, whose job it was to oversee the deportation. Two ships sailed from Petrograd that autumn, taking Old Russia's eminent men and their families away to what would become permanent exile in Berlin, Prague, and Paris. Through journals, letters, memoirs, and personal accounts, Lesley Chamberlain creates a rich portrait of these banished thinkers and their families. She describes the world they left behind, the émigré communities they were forced to join, and the enduring power of the works they produced in exile.


Lenin's Private War

' ... the Leninist bacchanalia ...'
Victor Frank, 'Lenin and the Russian Intelligentsia'

'Never, of course, have I thought of "chasing away the intelligentsia" ...'
Lenin to Gorky,...


Praise for Lenin's Private War

“Moving, deeply thoughtful . . . Revel in the glorious spectacle of the failure of Lenin's attempts to murder art, history, and faith.” —The Sunday Times (London)

“[Chamberlain] brings these forgotten figures back to life with great skill and empathy . . . making a strong case for the importance of their banishment as a turning point in the road from revolution to Communist tyranny.” —The New York Times

“Infused with a deep understanding of the rich history of Russian thought . . . Less a study of the formation of the Soviet police state than a reflective, nuanced survey of the intelligentsia from the late 19th century to the outbreak of the Second World War.” —The Seattle Times

“Chamberlain has put together a detailed account of a little-remembered but important episode of that consolidation. She has found new material that the fall of the Soviet Union has made available.” —Associated Press

“A much-needed account, the only one in English, of this shameful moment in Russian history . . . Chamberlain refuses to just report. . . . She insists on making critical sense of her amorphous subject.” —The Chronicle of Higher Education

“[Chamberlain] has not only honored the individuals so shabbily treated but has shone a spotlight on an important tradition of idealist philosophy so integral to Russian thinking, which Lenin could not, for all his efforts, quite extinguish.” —The Washington Times

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Lesley Chamberlain

LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN is the author of many books, including Communist Mirror, Nietzsche in Turin, and Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia. She lives in London.

Lesley Chamberlain

From the Publisher


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