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.
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.
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.
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.