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Reconstructing Lenin: An Intellectual Biography


Winner of the Deutscher Memorial Prize 2015

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is among the most enigmatic and influential figures of the twentieth century. While his life and work are crucial to any understanding of modern history and the socialist movement, generations of writers on the left and the right have seen fit to embalm him endlessly with superficial analysis or dreary dogma. Now, after the fall of the Soviet Union and “actually-existing” socialism, it is possible to consider Lenin afresh, with sober senses trained on his historical context and how it shaped his theoretical and political contributions. Reconstructing Lenin, four decades in the making and now available in English for the first time, is an attempt to do just that.

Tamás Krausz, an esteemed Hungarian scholar writing in the tradition of György Lukács, Ferenc Tőkei, and István Mészáros, makes a major contribution to a growing field of contemporary Lenin studies. This rich and penetrating account reveals Lenin busy at the work of revolution, his thought shaped by immediate political events but never straying far from a coherent theoretical perspective. Krausz balances detailed descriptions of Lenin’s time and place with lucid explications of his intellectual development, covering a range of topics like war and revolution, dictatorship and democracy, socialism and utopianism. Reconstructing Lenin will change the way you look at a man and a movement; it will also introduce the English-speaking world to a profound radical scholar.

A work of exemplary scholarship, written with penetrating insights and steadfast commitment. With richly documented attention to detail it illuminates the formation and much disputed impact of Lenin’s immense lifework in their dynamic historical setting, highlighting at the same time their enduring significance for the prospects of socialist developments.

—István Mészáros, author, Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness and Beyond Capital

Krausz brings to this contribution in the growing field of Lenin studies a lifetime accumulation of knowledge and insights, but also a critical sensibility, helping to extend and deepen the intensive explorations and debates about what happened in history and what is to be done … here is a revolutionary activist-scholar who has much to share with us, and Monthly Review Press has performed a service in helping to connect him with an English-speaking readership.

—Paul Le Blanc, author, Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine

Magnificent … Tamás Krausz’s Reconstructing Lenin is not only a rich work of radical scholarship, but in taking the life and thought of Lenin seriously and arguing for Lenin’s continued relevance, he has done us all a great service.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

A publishing highlight of the year has to be Tamás Krausz’s political biography Reconstructing Lenin. After an excellent chapter summarising Lenin’s life, Krausz abandons the conventional biographical format, focusing on the development of Lenin’s thought. He explores Lenin in the context of taking the revolutionary movement forward to defeat capitalism. Krausz’s book has deservedly won the Deutscher memorial prize and should be on every socialist’s reading list.

—Martin Empson, author of Land and Labour, in Socialist Review‘s 2015 “Pick of the Year”

Tamás Krausz is Professor of Russian History at the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences in Budapest, and Head of the Department of Eastern European Studies. One of the best-known radical intellectuals and political activists in Hungary, he has published widely throughout the world and is the President of the Editorial Board of Eszmélet, the sole Marxist theoretical and political quarterly in Hungary, founded in 1989.

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Publication Date: February 2015

Number of Pages: 552

Additional Information: 28 images

Paperback ISBN: 9781583674499

Cloth ISBN: 9781583674505

eBook ISBN: 9781583674611