In association with


Why Marx was right, and why Lenin was not a monster

Two book reviews in one article of the Guardian are paired because each offers a fresh look at figures the authors claim are vilified unfairly : Marx and Lenin. Terry Eagleton's book, Why Marx Was Right, uses a structural device of basing each chapter around an "accepted" rationale for the rejection of Marx and then refuting that rationale in the light of history and economics. Lars T. Lih's biography of Lenin is perhaps the first to portray him neither as a communist saint nor a bloodthirsty despot, but instead as a complex man who was optimistic while pragmatic. Single-minded and disciplined as a leader, he nevertheless came to know to his great regret that he had made one catastrophic mistake in his reading of history when the expected international revolution failed to develop from the World War, and instead he was left with a divided and impoverished country and a revolution that could never ripen according to the very doctrine that had driven it.