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Lenin's Embalmers Paperback – Oct 15 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; New edition edition (Oct. 15 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860466559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860466557
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #636,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joan Burrows on Dec 31 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to read this book to prepare for a production of a play by Vern Thiessen. It was very helpful in providing more background info about the two embalmers and about the political/social time period of Russia. Also, lots of pictures of all those involved in the time period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Mendelssohn on March 28 2003
Format: Paperback
Written by the son of one of Lenin's main embalmer's, this short book follows his family's personal history against the backdrop of Soviet politics. The book is at its most effective in relating the Zbarsky's personal history in the face of Stalinism. Behind all of this is the story of Lenin's corpse. Indeed, the author's father was head of the labratory maintaining Lenin. A fair bit of technical detail is given about the preservation and tomb.
This is a very personal memior. The author had a poisoned relationship with his father, and the book is laced with this acid. Good or Bad, Zbarsky blames his father for misdirecting his studies and his career. In between this, the history of political distortion of science during the 1930's from a personal point of view is fascinating and chilling. The book also tells the story of how his father rose to a privileged position in Soviet society, and some of the double think involved in this. The Zbarsky's thought they were untouchable, having survived the purges of the 1930's only to fall foul of Stalin just before his death. Evidently, with some irony Stalin's death probably saved the father, who was in the gulag by then.
The book concludes with some history of other embalming done by the lab, first for political reasons and then for financial reason after the collapse of the Sovient Union.
In some ways, I thought the poisoned relationship between father and son detracted from the history involved. Perhaps it was deserved, but at some point it color's the author's perspective on other events. Having said that, this book is a strange but interesting story of life in Soviet Russia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka on March 20 2001
Format: Hardcover
I had never heard about this book until I saw it sitting on a shelf at a small bookstore. The title intrigued me, so I purchased it. While a lot of the work, at least initially, discusses the embalming of Lenin's corpse, there was a considerable amount of material about life during the purges of Stalin. The author was a witness to many events, albeit from a priviledged position in the Soviet hierarchy, and his recounting of the "show trials" and the terror of the "knock in the middle of the night" is revealed explicitly. There is also some recounting of other Communist leaders being embalmed by Russian experts, the section concerning the work on Ho Chi Minh during the height of the American bombing of North Vietnam being particularly interesting. Read this book to learn many different and interesting things about life under Stalin, and also the early days of the USSR.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read so many books about the Former Soviet Union, that I would probably not realize I had read some of them, until I had read into the books for some length. This book by Ilya Zbarsky "Lenin's Embalmers" is not one you will forget.
The book is not ghoulish nor is it sensational; it is an incredible story about an exceptional event and profession. The book is primarily about the initial embalming, and the decades of maintenance upon Lenin's corpse that have followed. The book is made much more interesting, as the Author meshes the story of Lenin's remains with Soviet History as he and his Family experienced it. The Author also includes the History of the tomb itself, from the earliest designs, through the modifications it has gone through over the years. Architectural drawings as well as construction photographs are included.
The book maintains that all of Lenin was initially preserved, and contrary to persistent rumors, that the entire body has remained intact. Whether or not the book is convincing on these points, I leave to other readers. This really is a great offbeat read. It also is a serious explanation of the History, not a tabloid distortion.
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