Lenin's Brother: The Origins of the October Revolution

Lenin's Brother: The Origins of the October Revolution

Philip Pomper

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0393070794

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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

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supports this. She claimed to be ignorant of Sasha’s involvement with a revolutionary conspiracy in 1887. 36. Anna’s account is reconstructed from Maria Alexandrovna’s and from the memoirs of the procurator, Kniazev, who witnessed this meeting. Aleksandr Il’ich Ul’ianov i delo 1 Marta 1887 g., 123, 124–125 n. 4. 37. Ibid., 123. 38. Ibid., 124. 39. Ibid., 125. Anna mentions here that Maria Alexandrovna had heard rumors that Sasha might be pardoned, but thought it unwise to tell Sasha. 40.

the students. Russia’s refractory youth, however, did not accept such reactionary trends with equanimity and always found ways to circumvent the rules. It was a worrisome situation for parents sending their children to the capital of the empire, and Ilya Nikolaevich and Maria Alexandrovna may have sensed that some sort of rebellion simmered beneath the apparent calm of the pride of the Simbirsk classical gymnasium’s graduating class of 1883. THE TRIP FROM SIMBIRSK on the Volga to St. Petersburg

indignation that it once again terrified me.” Anna here refers to Sasha’s similar, though wordless, reaction after their visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress. His acute sensitivity to the regime’s treatment of the intelligentsia provoked a level of outrage that exceeded ordinary limits. “Sasha gloomily turned inward for the remainder of the evening, which I had ruined for both of us…. Now I think that a more astute observer at that moment would have foreseen his fate.”11 Throughout 1884 and 1885

execution of systematic terror, and held no brief for gathering all of their meager resources for a solo attack on the tsar. His commitment to the group kept him working on the bombs, but according to Govorukhin, Sasha thought he could best serve the cause with theoretical work abroad. “I’ll help prepare the assassination and then I’ll hide and, if the government searches for me, I’ll flee abroad.”1 Govorukhin in January 1887 accused Ulyanov of vacillating, but once he himself emigrated, he

WELLS STREET, LONDON WIT 3QT IN MEMORY OF IGOR GRISHAYEV, 1938–2003 Ambivalence, I think, is the chief characteristic of my nation. There isn’t a Russian executioner who isn’t scared of turning victim one day, nor is there the sorriest victim who would not acknowledge (if only to himself) a mental ability to become an executioner. JOSEPH BRODSKY CONTENTS List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Note on Transliteration and Russian Dates Main Characters Preface ONE ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

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