The Philosophy Steamer

Lesley Chamberlain

RRP: £9.99

10 May 2007

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843540939

In 1922, Lenin personally drew up a list of some 220 ‘undesirable’ intellectuals to be deported in preparation for the creation of the Soviet Union in December of that year. Two ships sailed from Petrograd that autumn, taking around 70 of these eminent men and their families away to what became permanent exile in Berlin, Prague and Paris. Using diaries, letters and memoirs, The Philosophy Steamer tells the story of the philosophers, writers, journalists and scholars thrown out of their homeland and forced to join émigré communities. It also explores the fate of ideas: not just those of Lenin, but also of the men who, though forced to leave their homeland, made unique contributions to the cultural and intellectual life of the twentieth century.


A remarkable and painful cultural and political history.Allan Massie
Daily Telegraph

Compelling, laudably unsentimental and deeply significant.Frances Stonar Saunders

Moving, deeply thoughtful... such a good book.Bryan Appleyard
Sunday Times

Chamberlain vividly recreates the character and everyday life of a number of selfless, unworldly refugees in Berlin, Prague and Paris... Chamberlain's focus on the everyday experience of exile in the West, as well as her careful research, ensure that this study will not be superseded.Donald Rayfield
Literary Review