McFarland Archive

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First ever Biography of Angelica Balabanoff – extract from the book

24.06.2016 Posted in Writing No Comments

Had she ever been married? Or had kids? Was she really a mistress of Lenin, Mussolini, Trotsky and Stalin? Was Edda Mussolini, the eldest daughter of the infamous dictator, her daughter? Angelica’s life was full of mysteries and unexplainable events. Born in Chernigov, a small town in the Northeastern part of the Ukraine which at the time was part of the Russian Empire, she rebelled against her well-off merchant family and their traditional values, disagreeing from the age of 5 with the rules of upbringing imposed on the girls of her social milieu. She broke with her family when she became a young woman, refused the family inheritance and, after being cursed by her mother, left for Western Europe to live with the poor and ease their lives. She never saw her mother and most of her siblings again. After completing her graduate education, Angelica quickly became one of the primary female lecturers in Europe. The first person to discover, educate and form the future Il Duce, she was also a close acquaintance of Lenin and Trotsky during their exile in Switzerland, stood next to them as their equal in the ‘all macho’ Soviet government after the Russian Revolution and became Lenin’s most trusted agent, whom he sent on secret missions vitally important for the young Soviet State. Disillusioned with the Revolution, Angelica was possibly the only high-ranked official in Russian history who left the country legitimately without being prosecuted. Rejected by many friends and colleagues, she became an anti-communist […]

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My biography of Angelica Balabanoff is out!

22.04.2016 Posted in Writing 3 Comments

Dear Friends, My biography of Angelica Balabanoff, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel has been published at McFarland publishers after more than 4 years of intensive work. I’m the happiest personin the world. About Angelica. Born in 1878 to a wealthy Ukrainian family, Angelica Balabanoff broke ties with her parents and left for Europe to become one of the leading female socialists of the early 20th century. Just five feet tall, plump and plain, she was rumored to be a lover of Mussolini, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. Returning to Russia at the beginning of the October Revolution, she became one of the few women to occupy high-ranking positions within the all-male Bolshevik government, later fleeing Russia in disagreement with Lenin’s politics. She was accused by European and American secret services of promoting communist propaganda, and by the Soviets of disloyalty. She lived in small dormitory-like rooms, moving on average every two years with her two suitcases of important documents. She died in Rome at the age 96, concluding her 65-year career by supporting Giuseppe Saragat in his quest to become president of Italy. During her nomadic life, state and police agencies in the countries she visited compiled documents on her. The author draws on this extensive, scattered archive in this first biography of Balabanoff. Click here to order on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Hope you will like the book!!!        

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Looking Ahead to a Russian Centennial

25.03.2016 Posted in History, Writing 2 Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that  my biography of Angelica Balabanoff The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel will be published at the end of April by McFarland Publishers. To mark this pulication I decided to devote my blog to Angelica, her friends, passtime and recipes. I hope you liked my previous articles within the series “Red Rebels” about her friends Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others, about Angelica writing poems in five languages and the recipe of the only meal she could make – an omelet. No doubt an important event in Angelica’s live was the October Revoltuion of 1917. The first part of her life has been devoted to organising this event, while during the second part of her life she became dissilutioned with it and devoted the rest of her life to fighting it and what was going on in her country. In about 18 months Russia will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution. It will certainly be an occasion  to arouse controversy and emotion. The Revolution was one of the defining moments of the 20th Century. It brought the establishment of a Communist regime, millions lost their lives or fled their homes to go and live overseas.  It is not yet certain how Russia’s contemporary leaders will mark the centennial. During the Cold War, the Soviet government ensured that its revolutionary victory was celebrated as a most important holiday supported by the media and the entire population. Today in Russia many […]

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Angelica’s pass time – writing poems in 5 languages

26.02.2016 Posted in Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in March, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite pass time (see previous article Angelica’s pass time – Drinking Tea with Jam (varenije)). It was in the 1920s that Angeica has first started to write poems. She felt that poems helped her express her feelings, cope with her misfortunes and brighten her life. Gifted for langauges she composed in five languages, translating her own poems in all five of them. Her talent did not pass unnoticed making headlines and caricatures in the New York press at the end of the 1930s. Angelica was probably not the most talented poet. However her poems served at least two great reasons. Firstly, they made her fell better and helped her to go through years of hardships. Secondly, they were of great help to me as her biographer, providing a better insight into her feelings, life and events which she had often tried to conceal. In the poem “There is no Sunshine, no Happiness at all in my Bereaved Soul”, written after being expelled from the Soviet Union in 1921, disillusioned with the October Revolution of the 1917, she confessed: “My Soul Is burning into thirst of liberty for all; My Soul Is longing for a […]

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Angelica’s recipes – an Omelet

10.07.2015 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff at McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite recipes. In point of fact, Angelica did not cook. She was not even interested in food. For the majority of her life she was a vegetarian. Nonetheless, food played an important role in her existence. She used food to fight bourgeois traditions, which was the main battle of her life. My first blog post about Angelica’s recipes was devoted to her favorite food – cheese sandwiches. This one is about the only dish she could make – an omelet. All her life Angelica rented small rooms, moving every two years to a new place. And if the rooms had cooking facilities (which was not always the case), she had a pan to make omelets. So to honor Angelica I decided to make one. I do not often make them so at least I compete on equal terms with my herione. I got: 2 large free-range eggs, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 small knob butter, a bit of olive oil. My next steps were: Cracking eggs in a bowl, adding salt, pepper and beating it with a falk; Heating (on a low heat) a small frying pan, adding a knob of butter and […]

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Why did I spent 4 years writing a biography of Angelica Balabanoff

24.07.2015 Posted in Writing No Comments

I first heard about Angelica by coincidence, on the Internet, while following a discussion on a forum about well-known Russian women who lived abroad. Someone mentioned Angelica Balabanoff, the socialist Russian mistress of Mussolini. “Socialist,” “Russian” and “Mussolini” in one sentence sounded intriguing, and so I decided to take a closer look into her story. After a little research, I found three short essays written about Angelica between 1975 and 1983. Such a dearth of information was not surprising. In fact, this is a rather common situation with women in history whose lives are less known  than those of their male counterparts. So most of the information I  found in the essays came from Angelica’s memoirs My Life as a Rebel. It was out of print. I hurriedly ordered the book from the second-hand-book web-site abebooks.com, and read it immediately when it arrived. Dogmatic and monotonous, the book was a disappointment. Ready to brush Angelica aside, I gave a cursory look at the bibliographies and noticed that all three essays provided completely different sources of information. After entering her name into the databases of the biggest archives in Europe and America, to my surprise I discovered a wealth of information about the life and secrecies of this incredible person.* *Extract from the book The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: Life of a Communist Rebel scheduled for publication at McFarland Publishers, October 2015.

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Hugo Eberlein

31.07.2015 Posted in History, Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles within the series about the “Red Rebels” about Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni, Lidia Dan and others. So far I have been writing about Red women. So here is a story about a man, a German Communist, Hugo Eberlein. As with the previous heros, I came across him, while writing my book, a biography of Angelica Balabanoff, due to be published by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. Due to the lack of space I was unable to write about him in the book. A good-looking and charismatic Hugo Eberlein was born in 1887 in Germany. A prominent communist and leading German anti-militarist, he supported the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. However only a few years later, he disagreed with Lenin’s politics of the Red Terror and preferred to settle in Germany and devote his time to German Socialists. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Hugo decided that he would be safer in Russia. In 1937, four years after arriving in Moscow, he was sent to GULAG.  He was shot four years later, in 1941, at the beginning of war between Russia and Germany. Bertram Wolfe wrote in his book Strange Communists I Have known, that it has been suggested that Hugo Eberlein was married to a daughter of Lenin and Inessa Armand. (It has never been proved that Lenin and Armand had a child). Wolfe further writes that when Eberlein was send to GULAG in 1937, his wife disappeared. […]

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Bianca Tosconi-Pittoni

29.05.2015 Posted in History, Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my first two articles published within the eries of articles about the Red Rebels – about Louise Berger and Raya Dunaevskaya. Here is a story of another exceptional woman, Bianca Tosconi-Pittoni. As with the two previous heroines, I came across Bianca while writing my book, a biography of Angelica Balabanoff, due to be published by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. Angelica must have known Bianca since Bianca’s birth. Angelica was a good friend of Bianca’s father, Valentino Pittoni, a German Socialist Deputy in Trieste who represented Italy. The two women remained good friends until Angelica’s last days. Bianca Tosconi-Pittoni was one of the most beautiful female revolutionaries I have encountered during my research on Angelica Balabanoff. She was stylish, elegant and slender. She was born in 1904 in Trieste. Avant-garde and intelligent, Bianca decided to study medicine, but managed to complete only three years of university. In 1927 upon finishing her 3rd year she was obliged to move to Paris. With Mussolini coming to power, the lives of socialists were put into danger in Italy.In Paris, Bianca wasn’t just a socialist activist. She became the Secretary of Filippo Turati, a leader of the Italian socialists in exile. Bianca was a real Red Rebel. Not only was she beautiful, but she was daring and courageous as well. In 1938 she was one of the few women to join the International Brigade to fight the Spanish Civil war in […]

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Blogging about Angelica Balabanoff

8.05.2015 Posted in Writing No Comments

Dear Reader, If you have been following my blog, you know that my new book, a biography of Angelica Balabanoff, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel, due to be published by McFarland Publishers in October 2015. To celebrate this publication, the result of a four-year work and research, starting from May 2015, the articles in my blog will be devoted to my heroine. They will tell about Angelica, her life, hobbies, favorite recipes, her numerous friends, many of whom had an interesting life, which is worth being told, and last but not least I’ll will also publish the extracts from my book. So who is Angelica and why did I want to write about her? Born in 1878 in a dazzlingly rich family in Chernigov, Angelica broke ties with her parents and left for Europe, to become one of the leading female socialists of the European labor movement at the beginning of the 20th century. She was famous in Italy for “discovering” Mussolini, when he was an unknown socialist, and being the first person who “polished and educated” the future Duce. For a long time, it was thought that Mussolini’s eldest daughter Edda was the daughter of Angelica. She returned to Russia at the beginning of the October Revolution. Highly respected within the European socialist movement, her mere presence in Russia during the Revolution served as real publicity for what was happening in the country. Angelica fled Russia, disagreeing with Lenin’s politics. She was accused by European and American secret […]