Picture of lenin in tomb

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Lenins Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick

Society is sick of history. It is too mucy with us.
- Arseny Roginsky, quoted in David Remnick, Lenins Tomb


While Remnick was writing for the Washington Post in Moscow, my family was living in Izmir, Turkey and then in Bitburg, Germany. We got the opportunity to travel to Moscow shortly after the August, 1991 (the beginning of my Senior year) Coup. It was a strange period. So much changed so fast. I was trading my Levi jeans in St. Petersburg and Moscow for Communist flags, Army medals, busts of Lenin. It was only as I got older that I realized both how crazy the USSR/Russia was during that time and how blessed the Washington Post was to have David Remnick writing home about it.

Ive read other books by Remnick (The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama and King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero, and parts of Reporting: Writings from The New Yorker). The New Yorker is where I discovered and fell in love with his prose. So, with Remnick, I was reading backwards. It was time I read what is perhaps his greatest work. Lenins Tomb is a comprehensive look at the last years of the Soviet Union from the election of Gorbachev (with occasional backward glances at Khrushchev, etc. It was nice to get more information about Andrei Sakharov (I knew only broad aspects of his story, and still need to read more) and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (I know more about him, but need to read more of his work).

Some of this isnt dated. No. That is the wrong word. It is history, and by definition all history is dated, but the book ends with a lot of potential energy. It is sad to see that a lot of the potential for Russias democracy has been lost into the authoritarianism of Putin. It is also scary to read quotes from Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and unabaashed neofacists who won 8 million votes in 1991, and hear words that could easily have been spoken by Donald Trump. Nations and regimes are never as solid as we think. Often the corruption that exists for years, like a cavity, eats away at the insitutions until they become empty husks and everything colapses. Perhaps, that is one lesson WE in the United States (and Europe) should learn from the Soviet Unions collapse in the early 90s. Perhaps, it is too late.

Some of my random pieces by Remnick related to Russia:

Notes From Underground - Review of John McPhees The Ransom of Russian Art

The Historical Truth-Telling of Arseny Roginsky

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War
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Published 06.06.2019

Stalin's Bodyguard Talks About Stalin

Lenin's Mausoleum

His eyes are closed, his hair is combed, and his mustache is neatly trimmed. He is dressed in a modest black suit, and his arms rest peacefully at his sides. Though many assume at first glance that the figure is made of wax, it is, in fact, the very real and impeccably preserved body of the Bolshevik revolutionary. How has the body held up so well for so long? All of the internal organs have been removed, leaving only the skeleton and muscles behind, and the body is re-embalmed regularly and lovingly watched over by a team of dedicated specialists — as it has been since the day Lenin died. That day was January 21, , upon which the original plan had been to bury the body.

The body of Vladimir Lenin is a relic of a time long gone. Red Square in Moscow is one of the most visited attractions in Russia. The square stretches among St. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, Russian communist leader, politician, and political theorist. Though it looks more like a wax figure these days than a human being, the body is carefully tended to. The corpse is preserved by baths in various reagents and solutions like hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid, ethyl alc.

Facebook Twitter Email. A century after Lenin led a revolution that changed the world, his preserved corpse remains a subject of curiosity and conflict in Russia, but time could be running out on this unusual Soviet-era spectacle. After navigating through metal detectors and a line that nearly stretches around one corner of the Kremlin wall, visitors walk down a flight of stairs into a tomb of dimly lit polished stone. After being told by a guard to take hands out of pockets, visitors then move right to find themselves in a cube-shaped chamber, wherein lies the man himself. Lenin's body appears strikingly small for a man of such historical significance he was 5 feet 5 inches or centimeters tall and he looks more like one of Madame Tussauds' wax figures than a well-preserved corpse. Beneath bulletproof glass and sharply dressed in the new suit he was outfitted in this spring, his flesh is luminous against the room's dark red and black trappings.

Here visitors may gaze on it in the dark, cool of the tomb. When Vladimir Ilych Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, died on January 21, , he did not believe he was going to an afterlife. He assumed that death was the ultimate end for him.
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A full century since seizing the reigns of the Russian state from the grip of a weak cabinet and an ousted royal dynasty, Vladimir Lenin can still draw a crowd in Russia's capital, Moscow. But the citizens of Russia no longer gather in Red Square to hear the leader of the revolution give a rousing speech, rather they queue for a glimpse of Lenin's inanimate body, embalmed and laid to rest in his public tomb.

For thousands of years humans have used embalming methods to preserve dead bodies. But nothing compares with Russia's year-old experiment to preserve the body of Vladimir Lenin, communist revolutionary and founder of the Soviet Union. Generations of Russian scientists have spent almost a century fine-tuning preservation techniques that have maintained the look, feel and flexibility of Lenin's body. This year Russian officials closed the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square so that scientists could prepare the body for public display again in time for the Soviet leader's th birthday anniversary today. A core group of five to six anatomists, biochemists and surgeons, known as the "Mausoleum group," have primary responsibility for maintaining Lenin's remains. They also help maintain the preserved bodies of three other national leaders: the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and the North Korean father—son duo of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, respectively. The Russian methods focus on preserving the body's physical form—its look, shape, weight, color, limb flexibility and suppleness—but not necessarily its original biological matter.

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