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Lenin and the Russian Spark

On April 16, 1917, a short train carrying thirty-two passengers steamed into one of St. Petersburg’s less distinguished stations, completing an eight-day journey from Zurich. These passengers were arriving late to a revolution that had started without them, earlier that year, after food riots broke out in the imperial capital. But one of them—Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov—would quickly seize control of events. By year’s end, he had launched what would become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which replaced the empire it despised but remained largely within its geography. Reflecting on these events years later, Winston Churchill would compare Ulyanov, or Lenin, as he styled himself, to a “plague bacillus” that had been introduced into a body at precisely the moment it could do the most harm. The train injected the bacillus late at night, when it arrived and was greeted by a delirious crowd. The next day, Lenin was off and running, speaking and writing at a frantic pace, rejecting compr查看全文

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