Synopses & Reviews
Nikolai Bukharin was only one of the millions of Stalin’s victims. Most were ordinary people, unlike Nikolai and his wife, Anna Larina, who were members of the Bolshevik elite. But his and Anna’s tale provides a more enduring understanding of Stalin and Stalinism than the statistics that tally the dictator’s millions of victims. Their story contains all the elements of high drama: love and devotion interspersed with intrigue, betrayal, hope, weakness, friendship, naïveté, endurance, optimism, bitterness, and ultimate tragedy. In this book, Paul Gregory draws from Hoover Institution archival documents to paint a fascinating portrait of their life together, set against the backdrop of the Bolshevik revolution. Through their compelling story—told largely in their own words—Gregory reveals how the revolution ultimately went wrong.
The Bolshevik revolution unexpectedly brought to power a disparate collection of idealists, misfits, fanatics, intellectuals, scoundrels, opportunists, and some outright criminals and thugs. Nikolai Bukharin belonged in the idealist and intellectual category, whereas Stalin began as a thug, an organizer of bank robberies and murders in his native Georgia. Of the possible successors to Lenin, Bukharin most clearly spelled out a vision, which today would be called “socialism with a human face.” His loss, the author shows, suggests that Stalin’s victory was predetermined by factors deeply embedded in the Bolshevik revolution, as Bukharin proved helpless against a competitor who thirsted for absolute power.
Word of Nikolai Bukharin’s execution came to his twenty-four-year-old wife, Anna Larina, in the Tomsk camp for wives of “traitors of the fatherland.” The morning after her husband’s death, the warden confiscated Anna’s only photograph of her eleven-month-old baby, ordered her to pack, and sent her off to the next camp. She would not be released until 1945; even after her release, she remained in exile for another decade
Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin’s Kremlin: The Story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina tells of the tragedy of one death and one ruined life. Stories such as theirs offer more insights than do more-general accounts of Stalin’s purges. As Robert Conquest says in his foreword, “The political infighting stands out as the context of character and feeling—more effectively so than in pure fiction.”
Drawing from Hoover Institution archival documents, Paul Gregory sheds light on how the world's first socialist state went terribly wrong and why it was likely to veer off course through the tragic story of Stalin's most prominent victims: Pravda editor Nikolai Bukharin and his wife, Anna Larina.
“A story told to show the horrors of fate, of personal mistreatment and suffering by real people”—from the foreword by Robert Conquest
A founding father of the Soviet Union at the age of twenty nine, Nikolai Bukharin was the editor of Pravda and an intimate Lenin’s exile. (Lenin later dubbed him “the favorite of the party.”) But after forming an alliance with Stalin to remove Leon Trotsky from power, Bukharin crossed swords with Stalin over their differing visions of the world’s first socialist state and paid the ultimate price with his life. Bukharin’s wife, Anna Larina, the stepdaughter of a high Bolshevik official, spent much of her life in prison camps and in exile after her husband’s execution.
In Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin’s Kremlin: The Story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina, Paul Gregory sheds light on how the world’s first socialist state went terribly wrong and why it was likely to veer off course through the story of two of Stalin’s most prominent victims. Drawn from Hoover Institution archival documents, the story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina begins with the optimism of the socialist revolution and then turns into a dark saga of foreboding and terror as the game changes from political struggle to physical survival. Told for the most part in the words of the participants, it is a story of courage and cowardice, strength and weakness, misplaced idealism, missed opportunities, bungling, and, above all, love.
About the Author
Paul R. Gregory, a Hoover Institution research fellow, holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, Texas, and is a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. The holder of a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, he is the author or coauthor of twelve books and many articles on economic history, the Soviet economy, transition economies, comparative economics, and economic demography including Lenins Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives (Hoover Institution Press, 2008), The Political Economy of Stalinism (2004), Before Command: The Russian Economy from Emancipation to Stalin (1994), Restructuring the Soviet Economic Bureaucracy (1990, reissued 2006), and Russian National Income, 18851913 (1982, reissued 2005). He has edited Behind the Façade of Stalin's Command Economy (2001) and The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag (2003), both published by Hoover Institution Press and summarizing his research group's work on the Soviet state and party archives. His publications based on work in the Hoover Institution Archives have been awarded the Hewett Book Prize and the J.M. Montias Prize for the best article in the Journal of Comparative Economics. The research of his Hoover Soviet Archives Research Project team is summarized in part in "Allocation under Dictatorship: Research in Stalin's Archive" (coauthored with Hoover fellow Mark Harrison), published in the Journal of Economic Literature.
Table of Contents
foreword by Robert Conquest
1 April 15, 1937: A Plea from Prison
2 March 15, 1938: A Husband Executed
3 September 8, 1927: Digging His Own Grave
4 1926: Stalin Plays an Unlikely Cupid
5 Summer with Stalin
6 June 1928: “You and I Are the Himalayas”
7 July 4– 12, 1928: Bukharin Fights Back
8 Autumn 1928: Pity Not Me
9 Autumn 1928: A Fifteen- Year- Old “Co- Conspirator”
10 January 23, 1929: “To a New Catastrophe with Closed Eyes”
11 Early Warnings: Stalin Is Dangerous
12 Father and Daughter as Bolshevik Idealists
13 January 30, 1929: “You Can Test the Nerves of an Elephant, Bukhashka”
14 Summer 1934: A Fateful Meeting
15 April 16– 23, 1929: Waterloo
16 1929– 1931: The Woman on the Train
17 August 1929: Removal from the Politburo
18 New Year’s Eve, 1929: Chastened Schoolboys Drop In on the Boss
19 April 16, 1930: Bukharin Sinks to His Knees
20 July 1930: With Anna in the Crimea
21 October 14, 1930: Overtaken by “Insanities”
22 January 27, 1934: Courtship, Bad Omens, and Marriage
23 December 1, 1934: Kirov Is Shot
24 August 23, 1936: Nadezhda Tries to Help
25 April 25, 1935: Humiliating Editor Bukharin
26 March–April 1936: Bukharin Opts to Stay and Fight
27 August 27, 1936: What Accusers? They’re Dead.
28 November 16, 1936: Bukharin Grovels
29 December 4, 1936: Dress Rehearsal for Arrest
30 December 1936– January 1937: Confrontations
31 February 15, 1937: “I Will Begin a Hunger Strike”
32 February 24: To a Future Generation
33 February 24– 25, 1937: On the Whipping Post
34 February 27, 1937: For or Against the Death Penalty?
35 February 27, 1937: Arrest Warrant for “Bukharin, N. I."
36 February 27, 1937: Arrest and Parting
37 February 1937: Anna Is Betrayed
38 April 1938: Impossible Dream
39 June 2, 1937: Bukharin’s Cagey Confession
40 June 1937: Anna Meets a New Widow
41 March 2– 13, 1938: Twenty- One on Trial
42 March 12, 1938: Papering Over Bukharin’s Final Defiance
43 March 15, 1938: The Ultimate Payback: A Ghastly Death
44 May 1938: Anna’s Own Ordeal
45 December 1939: Back from the Precipice
46 Late December 1939: Advice from a Mass Murderer
47 Summer 1956: Reunion with Iura
48 February 5, 1988: Rehabilitated by Old Men
49 A Special (Specially Tardy) Delivery
50 Bukharin, Stalin, and the Bolshevik Revolution
cast of characters
about the author