NY Times journalist A. Herman’s 1917 was a game changer read for me. His provocative premise that Wilson’s decision on WWI and Lenin’s Soviet revolution were motivated by both leaders craving Superpower status internationally. Herman gave me a fresh look at Wilson’s policies - “safe for Democracy” League of Nations -, along with Lenin’s totalitarian policies to better understand peace v. power in today’s U.S. & Soviet landscape. Masterfully written. A Gentleman in Moscow is the perfect follow up.
In 1917, Arthur Herman examines one crucial year and the two figures at its center who would set the course of modern world history: Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin. Though they were men of very different backgrounds and experiences, Herman reveals how Wilson and Lenin were very much alike. Both rose to supreme power, one through a democratic election; the other through violent revolution. Both transformed their countries by the policies they implemented, and the crucial decisions they made. Woodrow Wilson, a champion of democracy, capitalism, and the international order, steered America's involvement in World War I. Lenin, a communist revolutionary and advocate for the proletariat, lead the Bolsheviks' overthrow of Russia's earlier democratic revolution that toppled the Czar, and the establishment of a totalitarian Soviet Union. Men of opposing ideals and actions, each was idolized by millions-and vilified and feared by millions more. Though they would never meet, these two world leaders came to see in the other the evils of the world each sought to eradicate. In so doing, both would unleash the forces that still dominate our world, and that continue to shape its future from nationalism and communism to today's maps of the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe. In this incisive, fast-paced history, Herman brilliantly explores the birth of a potent rivalry between two men who rewrote the rules of geopolitics-and the moment, one hundred years ago, when our contemporary world began.