The tail end of this month has seen me finally getting around to reading some history, H.G. Wells’ The Outline of History consuming the better part of the week before last. I’ve also been reading from The History of Japan, and finished With Wings Like Eagles, an excellent narrative of the Battle of Britain. It stands out along with The Revolutionist, a novel of the Bolshevik Revolution and the first thirty years of the Soviet Union. That marked my first time reading Littell, and if it’s any indication of the kind of quality I can expect, I may dive into his The Company, a history of the CIA, at some point in the future. Outstandingly gritty.
In addition, I completed the Typhon Pact miniseries with Paths of Disharmony, which provides a stunning political shakeup to the Trek litverse.
…two smart brigs, both armed with fourteen six-pounder cannons and both anchored close to the Warren, flew the Massachusetts Navy flag, which showed a green pine tree on a white field and bore the words “An Appeal to Heaven””.
“An appeal to nonsense,” Saltonstall growled.
“Sir?” the midshipman asked nervously.
“If our cause is just, Mister Conigsby, why need we appeal to heaven? Let us rather appeal to force, to justice, to reason.”
“Aye aye, air,” the midshipman said, unsettled by the captain’s habit of looking past the man he spoke to.
“Appeal to heaven!” Salton sneered. “In war, Mister Conigsby, one might do better to appeal to hell.”
Eppler collected his thoughts. “A self-appointed vanguard has come to think of itself as the working class in whose name it speaks. So first the vanguard party substitutes itself for the entire working class, yes? Then the party organization substitutes itself for the entire party, yes? Then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the party organization, yes? You see where it leads? It is inevitable! One day a single dictator will substitute himself for the Central Committee, yes?”
Lili, furious, cried, “In the name of what cause do you betray us?”
Eppler smiled tiredly. “In the name of common sense,” he said. “In the name of pure Marxism. In the name of the millions of people who will suffer if this king of communism has his way, yes?” Eppler addressed himself to Zander. “I started to tell you one night when I had a bit too much to drink. You remember, yes? This Lenin of yours is taking communism down the wrong road. No good will come of it. No good at all. He is an elitist, yes? He creates elites. And he — yes? — he is the elite of the Central Committee. He is making footsteps, yes? After him others will folow in his path. The dictatorship of the proletariat will become the dictatorship of a single man.”
p. 76 and p. 147, The Revolutionist. Robert Littell.
Lenin was not amused. “There are no accidents in history, young man,” he said. Suddenly his brow pleated like a curtain. Was he in pain, Znder wondered, or was he thinking about what lay ahead? “There are only leaders who correctly analyze the forces at work,” Lenin mumbled, “and then exploit this knowledge.”
Which was another way of saying, Zander thought, that a revolutionist is someone who gives history a push.
p. 138, The Revolutionist. Littell.
Potentials for next week:
I’m almost done with The History of Japan, and — having finished that volume of Wells which so grabbed my attention — I’ve returned in earnest to The Confessions. I’ll also be reading Bernard Cornwell’s The Fort: A Novel of the Revolutionary War and (assumedly) another Trek novel, probably Reap the Whirlwind, third in the Vanguard series.