This ground-breaking analysis confronts us with three fundamental questions on the socialist experiment in Russia: How did Marxist ideas come to be implemented in Russia, a country entirely unsuited to them? Why did the experiment lead to such suffering and upheaval and prove so fruitless? And why did the attempt to return to a proper Marxism//Leninism bring about the rapid collapse of Soviet Russia?In order to answer these questions, John Gooding examines the legacy of Lenin. In particular he investigates the two conflicting posthumous views on Lenin's character. On the one hand, Lenin was perceived - largely due to Stalin - as a godlike figure, embodying the omniscience and might of the party. On the other, he was known - mainly amongst intellectuals and later perestroika reformers - as a Marxist idealist, an anti-Stalinist and a democrat. It was this latter perception, the author argues, that brought the socialist experiment in Russia to its disastrous conclusion.
'Gooding has written a lucid and cogent commentary on the Soviet experiment in socialism, evaluating the various leaders and their policies in the light of how they contributed or detracted from the socialist project. It is an ideal introduction to Soviet history for those who are taking up the subject, and a stimulating interpretation for those who are already familiar with the subject of Gooding's book.' - James D. White, University of Glasgow, EHR