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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this best-selling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism.

©2015 David Remnick (P)2015 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A moving illumination.... Remnick is the witness for us all." ( The Wall Street Journal)
"An engrossing and essential addition to the human and political literature of our time." ( The New York Times)
"The most eloquent chronicle of the Soviet empire's demise published to date.... It is hard to conceive of a work that might surpass it." (Francine du Plessix Gray, Washington Post Book World)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 06-18-18

Society is sick of history. It is too much with us

"Society is sick of history. It is too mucy with us."
- Arseny Roginsky, quoted in David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb

While Remnick was writing for the Washington Post in Moscow, my family was living in Izmir, Turkey and then in Bitburg, Germany. We got the opportunity to travel to Moscow shortly after the August, 1991 (the beginning of my Senior year) Coup. It was a strange period. So much changed so fast. I was trading my Levi jeans in St. Petersburg and Moscow for Communist flags, Army medals, busts of Lenin. It was only as I got older that I realized both how crazy the USSR/Russia was during that time and how blessed the Washington Post was to have David Remnick writing "home" about it.

I've read other books by Remnick (The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama and King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero, and parts of Reporting: Writings from The New Yorker). The New Yorker is where I discovered and fell in love with his prose. So, with Remnick, I was reading backwards. It was time I read what is perhaps his greatest work. Lenin's Tomb is a comprehensive look at the last years of the Soviet Union from the election of Gorbachev (with occasional backward glances at Khrushchev, etc. It was nice to get more information about Andrei Sakharov (I knew only broad aspects of his story, and still need to read more) and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (I know more about him, but need to read more of his work).

Some of this isn't dated. No. That is the wrong word. It is history, and by definition all history is dated, but the book ends with a lot of potential energy. It is sad to see that a lot of the potential for Russia's democracy has been lost into the authoritarianism of Putin. It is also scary to read quotes from Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and unabaashed neofacists who won 8 million votes in 1991, and hear words that could easily have been spoken by Donald Trump. Nations and regimes are never as solid as we think. Often the corruption that exists for years, like a cavity, eats away at the insitutions until they become empty husks and everything colapses. Perhaps, that is one lesson WE in the United States (and Europe) should learn from the Soviet Union's collapse in the early 90s. Perhaps, it is too late.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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One of the best books I've listened to on Audible

What was one of the most memorable moments of Lenin's Tomb?

There were several. The author's efforts to contact Kaganovich, descriptions of Magadan and Solzhenitsyn, the subtle underlying antisemitism, the origins of Mikhail Sergeyevitch, and more.

What about Michael Prichard’s performance did you like?

I thought it was superb. He was engaging and I always found myself wanting to keep listening.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Not an extreme reaction, but I did have a considerably greater desire to keep listening

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

If I hadn't become a musician, I am sure I would have become a historian. I love history and reading a well written history book is just heaven for me. This is a very well written book by a man who knew what he was talking about. Mr. Remnick was a (Jewish!) reporter who lived in the USSR through the Gorbachev years right up through the time of Boris Yeltsin when the USSR became Russia again. He spoke with Gorbachev on several occasions, as well as many other high level people in the Soviet government. He took his young bride with him when he received the assignment, and his son was born in Russia, so he was very connected to the country and its people.

His insights, his scope of understanding and his ability to put things into perspective without getting preachy or moralizing helped me to see this part of history more clearly and allowed me to draw my own conclusions. Here is one of my conclusions: God Bless America! When I read of the extreme hardships the Russian people had to endure because of their selfish leadership I truly cried. My heart was breaking as I read of the fishermen who had boatloads of top grade salmon ready to take to market, but had to wait for approval of the government before they could bring them ashore. By that time, the fish that could have fed thousands of starving Russians had rotted. I live in a modest sized home in a fairly nice neighborhood, but I sometimes lament that there is not enough room in my house for everything I want. I was humbled when I realized that many Soviet citizens were living in an apartment the size of my walk-in closet. People who were divorced had to continue living together for years because they could not get a second apartment. Medical care was next to non-existent. And on and on. Our first world problems are sniveling and unimportant when compared with those of this sad country.

And their problems are far from resolved. Although things have improved, the crime has sky rocketed. As one person put it, "Freedom has created more Al Capones and fewer Henry Fords." I hope they can find their way out of this darkness, but i don't think it will be any time soon. It is a country with vast potential, but things must improve before they can come close to reaching it.

Michael Prichard was an excellent narrator for this book. He seemed to understand the Russian pronunciations because they rolled off his tongue with ease. I say this, but not understanding Russian myself I could be mistaken. But compared to what Russian I have heard, it seemed to be spot on.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Perfect

All around perfect literary experience. Remnick is a Titan of journalistic history on par with William Shirer. Utterly flawless. Highly recommended.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • ESB
  • VA, United States
  • 11-23-17

Great Info, but Format Awkward

The information in the book is priceless. I learned a lot. However, the organization I hated. Was hard to follow who was speaking at times and how the book was organized. I am sure this is all compounded by it being an audible book. Audible would do itself a great service by adding to it a section where one could see a table of contents and maps/pics.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

The depth and insight of this book are outstanding. Being a history buff I love when I become engrossed in content that I knew a bit about, but then learn much more. Excellent resource.

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There's a lot to learn from the Russian experience

A remarkable journey through a period and region that is shrouded in mystery and misinformation. Russia's ambitions and motivations are unknown by most westerners and it's simultaneously perplexing and terrifying to realize that a combination of apathy, cynicism and callous may render many Russians with a similar position.

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A most compelling narrative of the fall of the Soviet Empire

I have seldom found a piece of history so riveting and difficult to ‘put down.’ David Remnick, a superb journalist,
is to be commended for the interviewing of so many who endured the tragic decades of heartbreaking personal deprivation and losses, and reminding the reader of so many key details regarding the reign of terror begun under Lenin and worsening under Stalin. Although so many of the events of the 1960’s and forward occurred during my young adulthood, I am ashamed to admit I had no clue as to the continual ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which was occurring throughout the Soviet Union at a time when evidently the West had little care or concern for life in the Soviet Union. Many of us living today were children during the Cold War, the era of the Iron Curtain, and the greatly feared nuclear threats from our enemy, the Soviet Union, but to realize the extreme cruel conditions and deprivation under which the common people were forced to exist was definitely off my radar, and this book has been a massive revelation.
The author’s account of events leading up to the coup that eventually brought down Gorbachev was just riveting, and even knowing the outcome in advance did little to quell the suspense surrounding this great historical event.
I had begun by reading the printed word, but thankfully had the good sense to switch to Audible. How beautifully the book has been rendered by Michael Prichard whose fluent pronunciation of Russian names and places have made me realize how melodic the language; I regret not studying it for
a second language.
To receive merit, a book of any genre should leave its reader richer and better for having read it. Because of this outstanding book, I have a newfound interest and concern for the peoples of all those former Soviet countries who have borne suffering, enslavement, and cultural loss and as of yet still have little to nothing to have replaced the dismal status quo of a failed experiment in socialism.
A recurring thought as I was listening to the book was that all the dissident students on our college campuses should be required to read or listen to “Lenin’s Tomb;” perhaps they might have a greater appreciation of what it means to live in a free country with personal liberties versus the collectivist world of Communism, a failed ideology from which Russia is still in the throes of recovering.

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Both Educational & Enjoyable

I enjoyed every minute and gained some understanding of Russian and Soviet history, not just the Gorbachev years. Wonderful reporting and clear narration. My only disappointment is the book coming to an end and finding no audio of the sequel, Resurrection!

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I really like this book

I've listened to it several times and always find it startling. No doubt it's a very slim account of a very complicated era, but it's good. And the narrator is one of my favorites.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Fat Tony
  • 06-24-18

Great content, good speaker.

the audio quality is not great.

the speaker is good and the book is fantastic.

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  • Kieran Power
  • 04-07-18

Brilliant

Fantastically researched, brilliant and engaging, could not stop listening to this audio book. Very finely narrated. Could not recommend enough.

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  • Shane
  • 05-30-16

Fascinating Topic Well Told

This book was phenomenal. It did a really good job of telling the story though the eyes of a reporter who was there, constantly weaving in personal anecdotes with societal events. The protagonist (the author) clearly has a few bones to pick with the USSR government (as he should) but still manages to be remarkably objective given that this was written so close to the historical events it describes.