autobiography · nonfiction

Child of the Revolution by Wolfgang Leonhard. One of the most interesting political autobiographies

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1990-0625-029a,_Berlin,_Wolfgang_Leonhard[1]Child of the Revolution by Wolfgang Leonhard, came to my life unexpectedly and became one of my favorite books ever. Probably the best memoir about life under communist regime.

Since early childhood, Wolfgang Leonhard was exposed to Marxist ideology. His mother was a member of communist party, and introduced her son to the system. When they escaped to Soviet Russia, she became victim of Stalin’s purge and was sentenced to 12 years forced labor.

After his mother had been sent to the gulag, Leonhard joined one of the Soviet schools. He caught attention of The Party and was selected for the fast- track training. Consequently, he became a member of the Soviet intelligentsia. He then came back to East- Germany with the ”Ulbricht group” to pave the way for communist state. When he finally realized that he did not want to play his part in bringing Eastern Europe under Stalinist control, he escaped to Yugoslavia and then to West Germany. He became an academic and worked at Yale University.

Although the system took his mother from him, he still was blindly believing in the rightness of the system. On one hand, he was suffering, on the other he believed that was the way it should be because the communist system could not be wrong. Individual lives could not compromise the communists’ vision for the world order.

Leonhard offers deeply- informed account of every facet of life under communist regime. The book is a vivid picture of evolution of Marxist ideology, rules of Soviet communism, indoctrination and political blindness. Despite manipulation, brainwashing and omnipresent fear, Leonhard was able to break up with Stalinism and to choose his own vision of socialism.

I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested in history and communism. This highly informative book not only gives insight into life under communist regime but also shows the mechanism of political indoctrination in general. I wish The Child of Revolution received more coverage because it truly deserves it.


8 thoughts on “Child of the Revolution by Wolfgang Leonhard. One of the most interesting political autobiographies

  1. This sounds fascinating, there is always something macabre about the total belief in the rightness of such a cruel system, this is definitely on the list, does it have a recent print, the only one I found on was a 1957 imprint.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, I bought Polish translation (2010 print) of this book in Poland. I am not sure if recent prints of English translation are available. This is really great book but I feel like it has been forgotten.


  3. It is not well known book. I am not sure if English copies are available. I read it in my native (Polish) language. I strongly recommend to read it because the book really deserves attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks. This sounds very interesting. Putting right at the top of my list. BTW, you should check out, if you haven’t already, some of Arthur Koestler’s writings. Another communist who lost belief half-way through. His three part autobiography is an excellent excellent read on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

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