Nikolai Bukharin was one of the five most influential revolutionaries that created the Russian Revolution. An intimate of Stalin, he was the editor of Pravda and a major intellectual force in the young Soviet Union. In Politics, Murder, and Love in the Stalin’s Kremlin, Paul Gregory tells the story of Bukharin’s fall from grace and execution after a show trial in 1938. It’s a remarkable book. In a mere 166 pages, you get a microcosm of Stalin’s ruthlessness and what went wrong in the Soviet Union. The poignance of the book comes from how long it took Bukharin to realize that the Kafkaesque web he was caught in was built by Stalin. The other amazing part of the book is a love story. Bukharin’s third wife is Anna Larina. She is 26 years younger than he is. On the eve of his execution in 1938, he writes her a farewell letter that the authorities keep from her until 1992. Her time in the Gulag, their brief marriage and the fate of their son is another moving part of this story.
In this week’s EconTalk, I talk with Paul Gregory about the life and death of Nikolai Bukharin.