Lenin on the Train – Catherine Merridale (Metropolitan Books)
Mix one part historian and one part private detective, add a dash of travel writer and healthy scoop of storyteller and you’ll end up with Catherine Merridale’s new book, Lenin on the Train. It is the tale from a century ago when in the Spring of 1917 when Russian Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication caused ripples half a world away to Zurich where Vladimir Lenin was ensconced in exile.
Merridale clearly racked up some amazing leg work compiling bits and pieces of historical accounts, newspaper stories, journals and diaries, and even works of art from the period that depicted the tale, as she stitched together this story.
If you’re like me, fascinated by history, but at times find reading history books like pulling teeth, then Merridale may have hit on the right formula; mixing all of the facts she has gathered, but telling it in an entertaining style that keeps the pace moving forward.
The story reveals some of the amazing interactions between Lenin and Russia’s sworn enemy in the German government as he traversed the country to return to Petrograd in the Motherland to spearhead the nascent revolution. At times you can’t help but feel like a stowaway in the tight quarters of the sealed train car, where Lenin and his tiny band of like-minded souls hurtled along the countryside towards their destiny.
Merridale includes just enough photos and artwork to add a pinch of flavor to and illustrate the story. If you’re weary of tired historical accounts, Lenin on the Train is a perfect way to spike your interest in history.