No Less Than Mystic: A History of Lenin and the Russian Revolution for a 21st-Century Left


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5.0 X 1.9 X 7.7 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author

John Medhurst was born in London in 1962 and graduated in History & Politics from Queen Mary College, University of London. He has worked at all levels of the British civil service from front-line welfare delivery to ministerial office in Whitehall, including local Job Centres, the International Branch of the Health and Safety Executive (in which he helped deliver assistance projects to ex-Soviet Bloc Eastern European countries), and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In all of these he was an active trade unionist. He is now a full-time officer for the UK's largest civil service trade union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). He was elected to PCS's National Executive Committee 2003-06 and for six years was PCS's representative on the European Public Services Union's (EPSU) Public Services Network. He has written for Novara Media, the Morning Star, Red Pepper, Green Left and the Journal of Contemporary European Research. He is the author of the highly regarded That Option No Longer Exists: Britain 1974-76, a revisionist history of Britain in the 1970s published by Zero Books in 2014, which Hilary Wainwright, author of Beyond the Fragments and editor of Red Pepper, called "A really excellent book" which had "done the left a huge service". He is married with two daughters. He lives in Brighton, England.


"The book is very comprehensive and insightful, and linked in perceptive ways to current affairs."
--Noam Chomsky

"Drawing on relevant scholarship and primary texts....Medhurst seeks to dispel the mystique still surrounding the Russian revolutionary leader. Most non-Leninist leftists will sympathise with Medhurst's aims."
--Publishers Weekly

The brilliance of Medhurst's political histories is his sharp eye for the pivot points and the alternative routes history could have taken. Or, put another way - alternate histories are buried in his actual histories. He will lead you to fly off into fascinating could-have-beens, big ones that start with small corrected missteps or slightly different arrangements of personalities. There are wonders compressed in his books.
This is a big, energetic, ambitious book that deserves every success. A hell of a performance.

"No Less than Mystic is a stunning work of synthetic scholarship which addresses one of the great historical questions of the modern epoch: was the Russian Revolution the worst thing ever to happen to socialism? No Less than Mystic makes a compelling case that it was. Arguing from a radical democratic, libertarian socialist perspective that is as relevant today as in 1917, Medhurst makes the strongest possible riposte to recent fashionable rehabilitations of Leninism. "This account makes no concession to the canard that the failure of revolutionary socialism is always inevitable, but demonstrates that while socialism with democracy may be difficult, socialism without democracy will always fail."
--Jeremy Gilbert, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory, University of East London. Author of Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism.