The most recommended Vladimir Lenin books

Who picked these books? Meet our 6 experts.

6 authors created a book list connected to Vladimir Lenin, and here are their favorite Vladimir Lenin books.
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Book cover of Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History

From my list on the history of socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrei Znamenski spent 35 years exploring religions, ideologies, and utopias. Formerly Associate Professor at Alabama State University, a resident scholar at the US Library of Congress, and then a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, he is currently Professor of History at the University of Memphis. Znamenski studied indigenous religions of Siberia and North America, including Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. At some point, he became intrigued with Western idealization and romanticization of non-Western cultures and spiritualities, the topic that he covered in his The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. His Socialism as a Secular Creed, which is a logical follow-up to that project, is an attempt to examine the socialist phenomenon as a political religion of the modern age.

Andrei's book list on the history of socialism

Andrei Znamenski Why did Andrei love this book?

If one wants to find a world history of the socialist phenomenon in a user-friendly format, this is your book to turn to. Muravchik is not only a good scholar, but he is also a good writer. A former member of the democratic socialist movement in the United States, he combines a deep knowledge of his subject and a lively narrative accompanied by representative anecdotes. You will not be able to put this text aside. It represents a collection of critical essays on socialist experiences from Robert Owen, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin to Western European democratic socialism, African socialism in Tanzania, and kibbutzim in Israel. Besides, the reader will enjoy a comparative chapter on the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and its partial dismantling in China. For this second edition of his book, Muravchik added a special chapter that explores the current rise of socialism in Western…

By Joshua Muravchik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heaven on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Socialism was man's most ambitious attempt to supplant religion with a doctrine claiming to ground itself in “science.” Each failure to create societies of abundance or give birth to “the New Man” inspired more searching for the path to the promised land: revolution, communes, social democracy, communism, fascism, Arab socialism, African socialism. None worked, and some exacted a staggering human toll. Then, after two centuries of wishful thinking and bitter disappointment, socialism imploded in a fin de siècle drama of falling walls and collapsing regimes. It was an astonishing denouement but what followed was no less astonishing. After the hiatus…

Book cover of The State and Revolution

J. Moufawad-Paul Author Of Austerity Apparatus

From my list on the state and state repression.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my long-standing interests, as a political philosopher, has been to examine the deployment of state power and the state forms (what I call states of affairs) the capitalist mode of production takes in order to preserve its economic order. Since I completed my doctorate, which was on the articulation of settler-colonial power in relationship to remaining settler states, I have largely been invested in thinking politics: how dominant politics maintain the current order, how counter-hegemonic politics disrupt this order. 

J.'s book list on the state and state repression

J. Moufawad-Paul Why did J. love this book?

The definitive radical materialist analysis of the state, and a book that taught me the importance of clear thinking and writing. Opposing liberal conceptions of the state as a social contract that reconciles class contradiction, Lenin elaborates upon and synthesizes Engels’ conception of the state as a machine of class dictatorship that arises due to the fundamental irreconcilability of class antagonism. Written after Lenin studied Hegel’s Logic, The State and Revolution is an elegant piece of dialectical thought. In opposition to both the social democratic and anarchist approaches to the problem of the state, Lenin argues that the bourgeois state should be smashed in order to build a proletarian state, the latter of which must be aimed at withering away along with classes and class antagonisms.

By V.I. Lenin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The State and Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lenin's classic work on the state, clarifying the differences with the opportunists of various stripes. He shows how the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat was raised by Marx and Engels after the Paris Commune.

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

Lisa Dickey Author Of Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia

From my list on the Russian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lisa Dickey is an author and book collaborator who’s helped write 20+ nonfiction books, including 10 New York Times Best Sellers. She’s also a Russophile from way back:  her first post-college job was working as a nanny at the U.S. embassy in Moscow during the last days of the Soviet Union. Lisa began her writing career in St. Petersburg in the mid-1990s, writing for the Moscow Times and USA Today, and she’s the author of Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia.

Lisa's book list on the Russian people

Lisa Dickey Why did Lisa love this book?

I’m recommending this because if have any interest in Russia but haven’t yet read it, you simply must. No, really, listen: You must. David Remnick writes like Muhammad Ali boxed: with grace, power, and an unfair amount of skill. This is a deeply researched, carefully crafted, incredibly absorbing account of the final days of the Soviet Union. Never mind the “tomb” title; the book is filled with colorful characters and delicious slices of life, all captured during a time of historic upheaval.

By David Remnick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lenin's Tomb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
One of the Best Books of the Year: The New York Times 

From the editor of The New Yorker: a riveting account of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which has become the standard book on the subject. Lenin’s Tomb combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism. Remnick takes us through the tumultuous 75-year period of Communist rule leading up to the collapse and gives us the voices of those who lived through it, from democratic activists to Party members, from anti-Semites to Holocaust survivors, from Gorbachev…

Book cover of Lenin: A Biography

Geoffrey P. Nash Author Of Religion, Orientalism and Modernity: Mahdi Movements of Iran and South Asia

From Geoffrey's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Father Sunderland AFC supporter

Geoffrey's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Geoffrey P. Nash Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Robert Service’s unbiased analytical biography Lenin, discloses a range of important new insights about its subject, drawn from original research. Legends and erasures based on previous political hagiography are neatly set aside. The remarkably driven, intellectually acid, and in some ways autistic character that emerges comes across as one of the most influential political movers of the last century. If he was cold and austere when it came to dispensing affection to his family and closest companions, Lenin was surprisingly bourgeois in his habits while remaining disinterested in the real lives of the working classes of Russia.

Service shows how the execution of his brother by the Romanovs engendered in him a vindictive and unquenchable urge for payback, accomplished when in 1918 a local Bolshevik firing squad executed almost the entire royal family in Siberia. It was an act that Lenin endorsed but did not openly authorize.

The author eschews…

By Robert Service,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lenin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lenin is a colossal figure whose influence on twentieth-century history cannot be underestimated. Robert Service has written a calmly authoritative biography on this seemingly unknowable figure. Making use of recently opened archives, he has been able to piece together the private as well as the public life, giving the first complete picture of Lenin.

This biography simultaneously provides an account of one of the greatest turning points in modern history. Through the prism of Lenin's career, Service examines events such as the October Revolution and the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, the one-party state, economic modernisation, dictatorship, and the politics of inter-war…

Book cover of Terror by Quota: State Security from Lenin to Stalin (an Archival Study)

Mark Harrison Author Of Secret Leviathan: Secrecy and State Capacity under Soviet Communism

From my list on working inside Soviet communism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I visited Moscow for the first time in 1964. The Cold War was in full swing. I was still at school, learning beginners' Russian. I returned a few years later as a graduate student. By this point I was hopelessly infected with an incurable and progressive disease: curiosity about the Soviet Union under communism. I was full of questions, many of which could not be answered for decades, until communist rule collapsed. Becoming a professional scholar, I spent the next half-century studying the history, economics, and politics of communist societies. The biggest obstacle was always secrecy, so it seems fitting that the system of secrecy is the topic of my most recent book.

Mark's book list on working inside Soviet communism

Mark Harrison Why did Mark love this book?

Stalin’s secret police was responsible for both foreign espionage and domestic repression. Until recently its domestic operations were a black box. This book unlocks the box.

It shows how and why quotas for executions arose, how the “productivity” (arrests and executions in a period of time) of secret police officers could rise and fall by an order of magnitude over a year or so, and why it made sense to detain or kill people in very large numbers “just in case.” The book’s patient investigations and logical deductions provide a contrast to the miserable fates of the human victims.

By Paul R. Gregory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Terror by Quota as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This original analysis of the workings of Soviet state security organs under Lenin and Stalin addresses a series of questions that have long resisted satisfactory answers. Why did political repression affect so many people, most of them ordinary citizens? Why did repression come in waves or cycles? Why were economic and petty crimes regarded as political crimes? What was the reason for relying on extra-judicial tribunals? And what motivated the extreme harshness of punishments, including the widespread use of the death penalty?

Through an approach that synthesizes history and economics, Paul Gregory develops systematic explanations for the way terror was…

Book cover of The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921

Steven G. Marks Author Of How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism

From my list on modern Russian history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Steven G. Marks is a historian who has written extensively on Russian economic and cultural history, the global impact of Russian ideas, and the history of capitalism. He received his PhD from Harvard University and has spent more than 30 years teaching Russian and world history at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Steven's book list on modern Russian history

Steven G. Marks Why did Steven love this book?

There are many excellent histories of the Russian Revolution that chronicle the main events, but none convey the complexity of experiences in Tsarist Russia during its final years and the Soviet regime in its initial phase as Mark Steinberg’s short but powerful and original work. This book gives us the bird’s-eye view of developments as they unfold, but also places them under the microscope to give us personal stories and experiences from different wakes of life. Using contemporary journalism and diaries, Steinberg recovers the voices of a range of ethnic groups in various regions of the empire—Jews, Ukrainians, and Central Asians--as well as workers, peasants, women, and members of the intelligentsia. As we witness their lives being thrown into upheaval by rapid political and economic transformation in the first years of the 20th century, followed by World War I, the two revolutions of 1917, and civil war, we gain…

By Mark D. Steinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 is a new history of Russia's revolutionary era as a story of experience-of people making sense of history as it unfolded in their own lives and as they took part in making history themselves. The major events, trends, and explanations, reaching from Bloody Sunday in 1905 to the final shots of the civil war in 1921, are viewed through the doubled perspective of the professional historian looking backward and the contemporary
journalist reporting and interpreting history as it happened. The volume then turns toward particular places and people: city streets, peasant villages, the margins of empire…

Book cover of Marx's Das Kapital: A Biography

Michael Roberts Author Of The Long Depression: Marxism and the Global Crisis of Capitalism

From my list on love and capitalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Marxian Economics and its relevance to a better world and socialism has been my passion since I became an adult. My expertise in this subject, such as it is, has been sharpened by the study of Marx and Engels’ great works, but also by the efforts of so many others since; some of whom are included in my five best books. But above all, it is the knowledge that in this world of nearly 8 billion people, most do not have a happy and fulfilling life but face daily toil and struggle to live (and die). Humanity has the power and technology to do better; we just need to organise our social and governmental structures to achieve it.

Michael's book list on love and capitalism

Michael Roberts Why did Michael love this book?

Francis Wheen is a witty journalist who has written a short but revealing biography of Karl Marx. And in this book, he explains in no more than 100 pages, how Marx came to write his masterpiece, Das Kapital. He shows why Marx’s great treatise deserves to be read and understood.

By Francis Wheen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marx's Das Kapital as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In vivid detail, Francis Wheen tells the story of Das Kapital and Karl Marx’s twenty-year struggle to complete his unfinished masterpiece. Born in a two-room flat in London’s Soho amid political squabbles and personal tragedy, the first volume of Das Kapital was published in 1867, to muted praise. But after Marx’s death, the book went on to influence thinkers, writers, and revolutionaries, from George Bernard Shaw to V. I. Lenin, changing the direction of twentieth-century history. Wheen’s captivating, accessible book shows that, far from being a dry economic treatise, Das Kapital is like a vast Gothic novel whose heroes are…