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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chronic mood of melancholy and locked-up anger to the years in the Simbirsk gymnasium. The sensitive, shy, and introverted little boy with his new gymnasium uniform buttoned up to his chin entered a world of students who were generally quite unlike him. Sasha, the class grind, let the other students exploit his consistent effort by helping them with their homework, but otherwise avoided their company. He suffered sullenly and usually wordlessly for nine years in the Simbirsk classical gymnasium.

in Washington, D.C., and Newton, Massachusetts, on research trips. I am especially grateful to Linda, whose love, companionship and support, and understanding from her own experience of what research and writing entails, helped in ways too numerous to tell. NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION AND RUSSIAN DATES In order to keep things as simple as possible, I use the most familiar transliteration for well-known Russian persons and place-names. Generally, I use the system of transliteration of the U.S.

virtually routine—not necessarily a good thing for the authorities. Students expected police agents to show up at private apartments when five or more students gathered, presumably for parties. The revelers ordinarily served their visitors enough strong drink to soften their vigilance. Student festivities were often Potemkin villages of a sort, fake name-day celebrations or engagement parties with dancing, music, and a prominent display of bottles—façades for serious backroom political

featured in earlier testimony about the materials procured for the bomb making. The court was quite interested in Shmidova’s living arrangements on Italian Street 18, where only a door covered by a hanging rug and blocked by furniture separated her apartment from Govorukhin’s. Prokofyeva, Shmidova’s landlady during the winter of 1886–87, tried very hard to portray her as a loose woman. Shmidova claimed that Govorukhin was engaged to her friend Eugenia Khlebnikova, whose brothers belonged to the

but both Govorukhin and Shevyrev had left St. Petersburg, and Ulyanov had carried on as leader. The other main leader, Lukashevich, by the general complicity of the witnesses and his own cover-up, had faded into the background, and his central role in the bomb making had changed into a minor contribution that had been solicited by Ulyanov. From Sasha’s own testimony, in which he corrected the court’s expert witness on explosives and commented on the design of the fuses, it appeared that he had

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