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  • ISBN: 9780231107303
  • ISBN10: 0231107307

How It All Began

by George Shriver

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 06/01/1998
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Description
At once novel, memoir, political apology, and historical document, How It All Began, known in Russia as "the prison novel", adds greatly to our understanding of this vital intellectual and maligned historical figure. The panoramic story, composed under the worst circumstances, traces the transformation of a sensitive young man into a fiery agitator, and presents a revealing new perspective on the background and causes of the revolution that transformed the twentieth century.

Among the millions of victims of the reign of terror in the 1930s, Bukharin is a special case. Not yet thirty when the Bolsheviks took power, he was one of the youngest, most popular, and most intellectual members of the Communist Party. In the 1920s and '30s, he defended Lenin's liberal New Economic Policy, claiming that Stalin's policies of forced industrialization constituted a "military-feudal exploitation" of the masses. He also warned of the approaching tide of European fascism and its threat to the revolution. For his opposition, Bukharin paid with his freedom and his life. He was arrested and spent a year in prison. In what has become known as the first "show trial", Bukharin confessed to being a "counterrevolutionary" while denying any particular crime and was executed in his prison cell on March 15, 1938.

While in prison, Bukharin wrote four books, of which this unfinished novel was the last. It traces the development of Nikolai "Kolya" Petrov (closely modeled on Bukharin) from his childhood to age fifteen. Lyrical and poetic, it paints a picture of Nikolai's growing political consciousness and ends with his activism on the eve of the failed 1905 revolution. The novel is presented with the onlysurviving letter from Bukharin to his wife written during his incarceration, an epistle filled with fear, longing, and hope for his family and his nation. The introduction by Stephen F. Cohen articulates Bukharin's significance in Soviet history and reveals the troubled journey of this novel from Stalin's archives into the light of day.

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