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Russian Portraits

by Clare Sheridan, edited by Mark Almond

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book cover
In late 1920 the sculptress Clare Sheridan, cousin of Winston Churchill, clandestinely left England bound for Soviet Russia. She departed, without telling family or friends and without the knowledge of the British Government, in the company of the Bolshevik Kamenev, who had offered her the opportunity of modelling busts of the revolutionary leaders.

This book, a diary of that remarkable journey, recounts how Sheridan abandoned her aristocratic English background and arrived in a country which was entirely alien to her and whose leaders had been portrayed in the West as monsters. It then describes her meetings with some of the most important figures in the Revolution, such as Lenin, Trotsky and Dzerzhensky, and her conversations with them during their sittings. Although Stalin is missing from her gallery of portraits many of those who would later fall victim to his purges are presented here, for once, without his awful shadow.

Based in Moscow, Sheridan did not glimpse much of life beyond the city, but she did enjoy a unique access to the Bolshevik leaders which makes Russian Portraits a fascinating picture of events at the very heart of an embattled revolution.

Mark Almond was Lecturer in Modern History at Oriel College, Oxford, and travelled frequently to Russia and Eastern Europe. A contributor to a number of international newspapers, he is the author of Retreat to Moscow: Gorbachev and the East European Revolution and The Rise and Fall of the Ceausescus.


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