The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov: The Story of Stalin's Persecution of One of the Great Scientists of the 20th Century

The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov: The Story of Stalin's Persecution of One of the Great Scientists of the 20th Century

Author
Peter Pringle
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In a drama of love, revolution and war that rivals Pasternak's Dr Zhivago, author and journalist, Pringle, tells the true story of a young Russian scientist, who travelled the world to collect seeds and plants unavailable in Russia in order to transform Soviet, and even world, agriculture and ensure the survival of humanity through adequate food supply.

To the leaders of the Soviet state, including Lenin, Vavilov's dream fitted perfectly into their larger scheme for a socialist utopia. But when Lenin died in 1924 and Stalin took over, the handsome and seductive young professor's dream turned into a nightmare. Stalin chose collectivization of farmland, causing chaos and famine, and it soon became impossible for Vavilov to implement his plan.

Worse, Stalin's secret police began to build up a file against him, as they systematically suppressed geneticists, which would eventually include false charges of sabotage and espionage, leading to imprisonment, torture and death. This is the intensely human story of a brilliant life cut short by anti-science demagogues, ideology, censorship and political expedience.

Pringle's sources include newly opened Soviet archive material, family letters and diaries, official correspondence and eyewitness statements, as this book follows the life, loves and trials of one of the leading geneticists, during the birth of modern genetics.

Peter Pringle has been foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times and the Observer and was former Moscow bureau chief for the Independent. He has written The New York Times and The Washington Post amongst others and is the author or co-author of nine previous books.