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Lenin's Private War

Lenin's Private War

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

Lesley Chamberlain

St. Martin's Press


In 1922, 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. Lesley Chamberlain creates a rich portrait of this chilling historical moment, evoked with immediacy through the journals, letters, and memoirs of the exiles.

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

“Recounted in fascinating detail...Chamberlain brings these forgotten figures back to life with great skill and sympathy.” —William Grimes, The New York Times

“Lenin's Private War is infused with a deep understanding of the rich history of Russian thought.” —The Seattle Times

“Movingly describes the experience of exile in ways that echo that great exile novelist Nabokov himself...Chamberlain has a rare gift.” —Sunday Telegraph

“Compelling, laudably unsentimental and deeply significant to the history of ideas.” —The Guardian

“Both learned and absorbing…Chamberlain has written a fine monument to a generation of thinkers who addressed questions of contemporary relevance and deserve to be better known.” —The Economist


Reviews from Goodreads

Lesley Chamberlain

LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN is a writer and reviewer distinguished for her wide-ranging work from travel (in the Communist Mirror) to philosophy (Nietzsche in Turin). Her recent books include Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia. She lives in London, England.

St. Martin's Press

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