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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Case of Comrade Tulayev (1949) by Victor Serge

Book Review The Case of Comrade Tulayev (1949) by Victor Serge Victor Serge is a real life version of the "Most Interesting Man" character from those Dos Equis beer ads. He was born to exiled Russian revolutionaries (well before the actual Russian revolution.) He grew up in Western Europe, spoke English and French fluently. He fought in World War I, then returned to Russia and got in on the ground floor of the Russian revolution. He stayed in Russia through Stalin's purges in the 20s and 30s, eventually getting exiled to Mexico. Along the way, he wrote and wrote penning fiction and non fiction about his experiences. The Case of Comrade Tolayev is a "fictional" account of the purges that reached to all levels of society after Stalin took power following the death of Lenin. Not all the victims of Stalin's madness were innocents, he was careful to purge the first generation of revolutionaries who were a potential threat to his power- people who knew Lenin. Many of these men were high up in the Communist hierarchy, and these are the characters. What you learn from The Case of Comrade Tulayev is that no one was safe from the madness of 20th century totalitarianism. Rarely do we see the powerlessness of the very men who were in charge of inflicting the madness of dictators on the population. It's hard to be sympathetic with the men in this book, but they are interesting. All seem utterly helpless to change their own fate, and we are talking about people like the head prosecutor in Moscow, and District governors. We don't usually think of the guilty as victims, but truly no one was save.

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