- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages, black & white illustrations
- Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
- Publication Date: 28/06/2012
- Category: Autobiography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9781590174517
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by roblong
What a book this is - Serge was the child of exiled Russian Revolutionaries, raised in Belgium; he became an anarchist and went to stir up the revolution in pre-WW1 France (spending most of the war in prison for his troubles). He then went to fight with anarchists in Spain before heading for Russia in 1919 to join the Bolsheviks. He was in the thick of things with the Bolshevik leadership and knew the major players well, before his disagreements with Stalin led to his isolation and eventual arrest, imprisonment in the Lubyanka for four years, and then internal exile to Kazakhstan. Friends abroad helped him be allowed to leave the USSR just in advance of the show trials that did for Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin et al in the 1930s, and he spent time in Belgium and France writing and trying to further the cause of an anti-Stalinist communism before the Nazi invasion chased him down to Marseilles, where he was able to use other foreign contacts to secure passage to Mexico, where he died in exile.Serge isn't a hero, he remained a committed Marxist to the end and failed to disown the 'good Terror' at the start of the revolution which he manages to divorce from the 'bad terror' that followed it. He also regularly notices that people in capitalist countries live far better than in the USSR, and that even a little bit of free market in Russia is enough to cheer people up and avoid pesky things like famines, without reconsidering whether this communism business is really all that. Nonetheless, he was fully opposed to Stalin and championed individual freedom of thought and conscience when it put his own neck on the line and almost everyone around him crumbled, so there is a lot to be said for him too. This is a ludicrously interesting book, well written (he was also a novelist), and a view of history from a man on the inside of some of the biggest moments of the 20th century. Great stuff.
Review by HadriantheBlind