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Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,834 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this bestselling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism. A moving illumination . . . Remnick is the witness for us all.--Wall Street Journal.
Hardcover, 588 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Turtleback Books (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Maru Kun
If you are a hard line communist apparatchik about to launch a coup d’état against those who libel World Socialism and defame the noble memory of Stalin then here is some advice: plan your coup well and don’t confuse planning with plotting.

This is plotting:

the traitor Yeltsin will be arrested and held accountable for his crimes; Yanev will replace him as President of a new USSR, its historic glory restored.

This is planning:

Yeltsin will be arrested at his Dacha in Vnukovo at 04:00 hours on 19 Aug
...more
Chris
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
just incredible - this is, without a doubt, one of the best books I've ever read. I don't have any deep interest in Soviet/Russian history, but Remnick's writing is mesmerizing. And clever - plus it contains one of the best lines I've ever read: "I'm not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia."
Dem
Having to put this one on hold for awhile, as while I was loving the book wasn't I wasn't happy with the audio version as this is one that needs to be read in order to underline and get the best from the book and my Library trying to source a copy for me as they don't have one in stock. Terrific read so far and really hoping I get my hands on a hard copy soon.
Gini
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, an account of the collapse of the Soviet Union published in 1993, humbled me in many ways. First and foremost, it's hard to come to terms with how uniformed I was during the time of periostrika. I had no idea of how Gorbachev lost his way during the transition, and Boris Yeltsin's leading role in it. From watching them on the U.S. news I thought Yeltsin was just kind of a drunk and a boob, and Gorbachev, a noble man. Regardless of his behavior while Russia's elected leader, Yeltson wa ...more
Daniel
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was about 100 pages into LENIN'S TOMB before I realized what this book was. I had it in my head that it would be a traditional top-down story about perestroika, glasnost and the fall of the Soviet Union, a fly-on-the-wall story in the corridors of power. What Remnick is after is arguably more ambitious and interesting: he's trying to chart the changing of attitudes that precipitated the collapse of the Soviet state in 1991. (Perhaps I should have taken a clue from Remnick's THE BRIDGE, which a ...more
Mikey B.
A stupendous chronicling of history in the making! We are presented with several differing viewpoints on the collapse of the Soviet regime and its splintering, in these truly tumultuous years. As the author points out, whereas other empires, like England, took decades to recede and change – this took place within a few years. Within days sometimes, overwhelming transitions took place.

The efficacy of this book is the internal focus on the people in the country itself; there is none of this hyperb
...more
Jonfaith
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My and I were driving to Columbus, OH in 2007 for a work seminar for her new job. We heard about Boris Yeltsin's death on NPR. The palace coup, Yeltsin's dancing on TV and the two Chechnyean wars occupied the next stretch of our drive. I found this book in a shop in Columbus a few days later and snatched it on the spot.

Remnick approaches his subject with an even hand. There is no Western arrogance about matters. When he discovers fault, he reports it.

I remember when Yeltsin resigned. I was going
...more
Max
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
This is history told with verve. We see how the corruption and repression of the Communist Party led to its downfall. We witness the Soviet Union disintegrate. We are there as it happens with interviews of participants from striking coal miners and political prisoners to top officials and leading dissidents. Particularly fascinating is the portrayal of Gorbachev as the tragic transitional figure with one foot in the future and one foot that could never leave the past. He starts down the road to ...more
Mike
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My one small gripe with this otherwise fantastic book: not so much that it’s opinionated, but I thought there were too many times Remnick allowed his personal opinions to bleed over into people and/or situations he was describing in ways that seemed to be trying to validate his beliefs. For example, in the chapter on the 1991 coup attempt, Remnick describes one of the Party leaders on the side of the putschists (whom Remnick pretty clearly doesn’t like) who’s yelled at by the liberal mayor of Le ...more
Brendan Monroe
Some years ago, I traveled to Tallinn with a then-colleague. While there, we paid a visit to the Occupation Museum. Aghast at the level of Soviet atrocities against the - in this case - Estonian population, I turned to my American colleague for his thoughts. "I'd like to hear the Soviet side of it," he said, unmoved. His claim was that museums such as Tallinn's were, along with Western histories of the Soviet era and its personalities, slanted and reflected an unfairly western, anti-Soviet bias. ...more
Hadrian
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Decline and Fall of Soviet Russia. Describes the ignominy and total corruption of the state, and the horrors and drudgery that the Soviet people endured, with penetrating detail. Excellent reading, and highly recommended for anybody interested in the era.
Matt
Aug 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really really good book. Asked point blank by goodreads what I learned from this book, I'd have to say I learned about the Gorbachev period, which had sort of a dead zone in my knowledge.... not entirely, of course, since I lived through parts of it, but I certainly have more of a handle on it now than I did before.

There's a lot to like here-- Remnick shows his level of access to ordinary and extraordinary people here, and it's deep. He talks to lots and lots of people, and obviously
...more
Anthony
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Maybe the most impressive piece of journalism I have ever read. The author let the many characters speak for themselves, adding flashes of his personal life only when necessary. How very lucky Remnick was to have been where he was, when he was. With this book, I felt like I was there.
Nick Black
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-nyc
apparently there was a late soviet Wheel of Fortune clone called Fields of Dreams, which awarded as its grand prize boxes of Tide. also, the Forbes magazine's corporate jet is named The Capitalist Tool.
Alain
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4,5/5

Cuando me compré el libro, pensaba que sería un relato cronológico de los sucesivos eventos que llevaron a la desintegración de la URSS. En lugar de eso, me he encontrado con un retrato poco convencional de la sociedad soviética durante la segunda mitad de los años 80 que permite entender perfectamente qué es lo que hace que el sistema cayera por su propio peso y, además, comprender por qué la Rusia actual es como es.

Remnick explica cada aspecto relevante de la sociedad soviética con una pr
...more
Matt
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1989-1991 I did not understand the complexities that led to the fall of the Soviet Union--could not even had I wanted to. The ensuing fallout of the USSR's collapse meant nothing to me, a young teenager. Instead, I eventually became a bandwagon American who gloated over a Cold War victory through much of which I didn't live, and to which I contributed nothing.

Good had vanquished evil! Capitalism's invisible hand slit communism's throat! Freedom will always win! Right?

Books such as this are p
...more
Marianne
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable, detailed and personal account of the various forces that brought the end to the Soviet Union.
Tracy
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just excellent.
Chris Chester
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, russia
How and when did the Soviet Union break up? As a child of the '90s, nobody ever really explained it. One minute, the bad guys in video games and movies hail from the USSR (whatever that means) and the next thing you know, they've reverted to Russia. Considering how important a foe they're billed to be, education about their history was strangely lacking, even at the comparatively good schools I attended.

I've since read all of Robert K. Massie's tremendous work about Peter and Catherine the Great
...more
Sher
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 gover ...more
tomsyak
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t yet had a chance to read Said’s “Orientalism,” but it seems that neither had Remnick. He makes sweeping statements about “the Russians” which I think he would never have made about “the Americans.” He is trying to complicate his story: neither Gorbachev nor Yeltsin are unambiguous, and yet in the end his narrative turns out to be as black-and-white as can be. An interesting point that he never addresses is his own persona: in interviews with such a rare bird as an American journalist, ...more
Philip Kuhn
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book out there on the collapse of the Soviet Union. Remnick traveled to Moscow for a story, and the coup by the old army generals happened when he was there, and the kidnapping and holding of President Gorbachev. Gee, I don't know, which story should I cover--the summit talks next month between Pres. Bush and Gorbachev, or the coup?!

Remnick deftly brings together facts about the USSR and other stories into a single narrative. For example, the first chapter is called "A forest childhood." No
...more
Aaron
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought Lenin's Tomb was a masterpiece. I decided to read it because we are at the twentieth anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union. And I remember it well! Almost twenty years after it was written, the book is still relevant. Remnick stated that "time will help sort out the Gorbachev era." However, there is no doubt that Lenin's Tomb is an excellent source for understanding the downfall of the Soviet Regime. Now if you ask my right-wing friends the sources of that downfall, they will give ...more
Michael Gerald
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best works about the last days of the once-arrogant empire of lies, David Remnick succinctly presents the different factors that led to those heady events: the hypocrisy of the Communist Party of Lenin itself, which supposedly set about to create an egalitarian society, but only crafted a new "ruling class" of their own and left a heap of corpses as its track record. However the Party tried hard to portray itself as a great power, the reality in the last days of the empire were the ta ...more
Steve Heil
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected "The Last Days of the Soviet Empire" to be a review of the events leading up to the dissolution of the USSR in Dec 1991, but the first half of the book goes all the way back to the late 1800's and early 1900's. Good history and context for the events that occurred in the late 1980's, but a bit heavy for a title like "The last days of the USSR". The first half of the book was a slog for me, but the second half of the book was excellent. Great coverage of the coup d'etat attempt. The au ...more
Nicole
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly fascinating and absorbing account of the last days of the Soviet empire. He had so many firsthand accounts of meeting with Russian politicians and everyday people which made for very interesting anecdotes.
Erik Roejskjaer
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating for anyone interested in the period
Constantin Manuel
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Omar Halabieh
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently finished reading the Pulitzer Prize winning book: Lenin's Tomb - The Last Days of the Soviet Empire - by David Remnick.

Below are key excerpts from this masterpiece:

In the years after Stalin's death, the state was an old tyrant slouched in the comer with cataracts and gallstones, his muscles gone slack. He The state was nearly senile, but still dangerous enough. He still kept the key to the border gate in his pocket and ruled every function of public life. Now and then he had fits and
...more
Greg Bailey
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Over the course of my nearly fifteen years of working for daily newspapers, several major stories imprinted themselves on my memory—the Challenger space shuttle disaster, election night in 2000, the Columbia space shuttle tragedy, and others. But I cannot recall an event that produced as much prolonged drama, with hour-by-hour and even moment-by-moment developments, as the coup attempt of the Soviet Union's Communist hardliners against General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. I was ju ...more
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David Remnick (born October 29, 1958) is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin s Tomb The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for Th ...more
More about David Remnick...

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“The Communist Party apparatus was the most gigantic mafia the world has ever known.” 4 likes
“I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” 4 likes
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