Donald Rayfield

The Boy Scout & the Butcher

The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution


Macmillan 282pp £25 order from our bookshop

Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 569pp £25 order from our bookshop

These two books, published to coincide with the centenary of the Russian Revolution, are linked by the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. This event forms the climax of Robert Service’s magnificent account of the Tsar’s last years and is just one of the atrocities to appear in Victor Sebestyen’s ‘Intimate Portrait’ of Lenin. But the only things that victim and murderer had in common were an inability to distinguish the trivial from the important and a conviction that they incarnated some non-human power: the Tsar believed that he had been anointed by God; Lenin regarded the Russian Revolution as the consequence of a Hegelian historical process.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter