Lenin's Brother: The Origins of the October Revolution
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The gripping untold story of a terrorist leader whose death would catapult his brother―Lenin―to revolution.
In 1886, Alexander Ulyanov, a brilliant biology student, joined a small group of students at St. Petersburg University to plot the assassination of Russia’s tsar. Known as “Second First March” for the date of their action, this group failed disastrously in their mission, and its leaders, Alexander included, were executed. History has largely forgotten Alexander, but for the most important consequence of his execution: his younger brother, Vladimir, went on to lead the October Revolution of 1917 and head the new Soviet government under his revolutionary pseudonym “Lenin.”
Probing the Ulyanov family archives, historian Philip Pomper uncovers Alexander’s transformation from ascetic student to terrorist, and the impact his fate had on Lenin. Vividly portraying the psychological dynamics of a family that would change history, Lenin’s Brother is a perspective-changing glimpse into Lenin’s formative years―and his subsequent behavior as a revolutionary. 11 black-and-white illustrations
The family secret became a matter of state importance. Anna and Alexander had already suffered the psychological damage. At some point in their childhood they sensed that they belonged to a hated and victimized group and that it was all terribly unjust, but they were helpless to do anything about it. Anna’s memoirs register important traumatic episodes in the history of Sasha’s sad and silent ways, but certainly not the whole story. For the fortieth anniversary of Sasha’s hanging, Anna assembled
know, the girl answers. —Cold, hunger, hatred, ridicule, contempt, humiliation, imprisonment, disease, and death itself. —I know. —Total alienation, loneliness. —I know, I’m ready. I’ll endure all sufferings, all blows. —Not only from enemies—but from kin, from friends? —Yes, from them, too. —Very well, are you ready to sacrifice yourself? —Yes. —To be a nameless victim? You will perish and no one—no one will know whose memory to honor. —I need neither thanks nor pity. I don’t need to have a
trial. He denied any culpability and presented himself as a dupe who had fallen under Govorukhin’s influence. The court stenographer reproduced Shevyrev’s verbal ticks—an “okay” (khorosho) punctuating each invention or evasion and sometimes a distinct pause while he mulled over the next lie. In view of the damning depositions and testimony of several codefendants, Shevyrev had to make one denial after another. He designed his lies to place much of the guilt on Govorukhin, who was safely abroad.
then sell the gold medal that he’d pawned for 100 rubles. It was worth 130 rubles, and with the remaining 30 she could pay back a debt he owed another student.38 This was not just about scrupulousness. Sasha showed his contempt for the fetish that she had used to beg for his life in her petition to the tsar. She understood only conventional symbols and careers. He had pawned the medal to keep Govorukhin, his comrade in arms, on the field of combat. To be sure, Sasha remained true to the love of
about official matters at all. Generally it was always merry, cozy, and relaxed during dinner at the Ulyanovs. Volodya and Olya, the gymnasium students, were at the forefront, with their ready wit. Ilya Nikolaevich loved most of all to joust with Volodya. Joking, he cussed out the gymnasium, gymnasium instruction, and had plenty of fun at the expense of the instructors. Volodya always very successfully parried his father’s blows and in turn mocked the people’s schools, sometimes cutting his