Conspirator: Lenin in Exile, By Helen Rappaport

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The Independent Culture

Rightly compared to Sebag Montefiore's Young Stalin, this highly readable work recounts Lenin's 17 years of exile prior to the Russian Revolution in 1917. The account of his stay in London from 1902 is particularly enjoyable. The revolutionary enjoyed fish and chips and even attended the "Aba Daba Music Hall" on Gray's Inn Road, though Rappaport notes his appreciation ("there is... a certain satirical attitude towards the conventional") was "hamstrung by the clumsy, dead hand of jargon that infected all his work".

Lenin detested the mild, damp English winter that gave him colds. Many will sympathise with his detestation of our endless Christmas: "It would be a dull time and he could not bear the waste." Rappaport's vivid depiction of Lenin's rootless life explains his determination to create an unrelenting new order in Russia.