Books: The Skeleton Key

THE UNMENTIONABLE NECHAEV by Michael Prawdin. 198 pages. Roy. $4.

One of history's truly horrifying figures was a now forgotten Russian named Sergei Nechaev, who died in St. Petersburg at the age of 35 in the top security section of the Czar's Peter-Paul Fortress.

He has been deliberately forgotten by the Soviets, but for a while in the '20s, Soviet historians sought in Nechaev's ideas and life a native Russian source for the brilliant success of Lenin's revolutionary theories. Since Stalin's time, he has been the No. 1 skeleton in the congested Soviet closet of historical horrors. According to Michael Prawdin, a Russian...

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