The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Grossman's Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine's gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin's purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives of Bolshevik true believers, the book begins with their conversion to Communism and ends with their children's loss of faith and the fall of the Soviet Union.
Completed in 1931, The House of Government, later known as The House on the Embankment, was located across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. The largest residential building in Europe, it combined 505 furnished apartments with public spaces that included everything from a movie theater and a library to a tennis court and a shooting range. Slezkine tells the chilling story of how the building's residents lived in their apartments and ruled the Soviet state until some 800 of them were evicted from the house and led, one by one, to prison or their deaths.
Drawing on letters, diaries, and interviews, The House of Government weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and fascinating new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror. The result is an unforgettable human saga of a building that, like the Soviet Union itself, became a haunted house, forever disturbed by the ghosts of the disappeared.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Edward V. Blanchard on 05-11-17
Inside saga of the leaders of Bolshevism & the USSR
What a generous & magisterial book! Basically the story of a wide group of leaders, intellectuals & senior bureaucrats and their families, most of whom lived at one time or other in the House of Govt. From the pre-revolutionary backgrounds thru the Oct Revolution, building the new Communist state, collectivization, the 5 year plans, the Great Terror & then the Great Patriotic War. This is s deep social, cultural & intellectual history of how a Bolshevik sect became the state religion of a great country, but it reads more like Tolstoy of “War & Peace”! Lots of Russian names & families to keep track of. Long, but fascinating, subtle, generous & sympathetic, but never “rose tinted”. Most highly recommended! Reader was easy to listen to, with the right balance of seriousness (& occasionally, irony).
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
By Mark on 23-11-17
Haunting tour of the temple of the failed deity
Engrossing relatable stories, often in their own words, of the thinkers who envisioned the Soviet state. Story after story illuminate the theories and ideals that led to the tragedy that followed.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful