Privet, Comrade Greyface!
I too wish that I had some decent historiography on Kamenev. Despite the magnificence of his beard, like you said, most books and sources I’ve read tend to gloss over him as well. Since there’s not just one book that addresses our bearded Bolshevik buddy in depth, you could just read a bunch and just piece all the stuff about Kamenev together. Orlando Figes’ ‘A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924’, and E.H. Carr’s ‘The Russian Revolution from Lenin to Stalin’ have some decent info on him. Although I haven’t read it, you might get something out of Anna Larina’s memoir ‘This I Cannot Forget’ (Anna was the widow of Nikolai Bukharin, who was also executed by Stalin albeit at a later date than Kamenoviev), since she personally knew a lot of the prominent Bolsheviks, including Kamenev.
However, since you don’t have access to any of these books, the best place to start would probably be marxists.org. It’s totally free and the good folks there have archived a huge collection of digitalized works written by and about famous socialists and communists. Kamenev’s page isn’t very detailed (even the other half of Kamenoviev has more stuff on his!), but it does include a brief biography, a few pictures, and most importantly, the three written works attributed solely to him which, along with ‘Platform of the Joint Opposition’, may give you an idea of his views over the years.
With regards to what people thought about him, you may also want to check out Trosky’s journal entry on Kamenoviev, aptly titled ‘Zinoviev and Kamenev’. It’s essentially a character analysis of the two but with a focus on
their perfect love what Trotsky believed to be the reasons why they confessed to everything they were accused of during their trials. Trotsky is ultimately defensive of them, both as people and former political allies, but he is quite critical in some places, especially regarding their “untrustworthiness” and their unpopular opposition to the timing of the October Revolution (here is Lenin’s rant on Kamenev as a result). However, though Trotsky may have been critical of Kamenoviev the politicians, he was not critical of Kamenoviev the ship, writing of them such poetic lines as "throughout the last thirteen years of their lives, they marched side by side, and their names were always mentioned together” and describing their relationship as a “tragic union”. SO BEAUTIFUL (SORRY, I COULDN’T HELP MYSELF).
But seriously, the articles I just linked above are useful sources because they were written by people who actually knew Kamenev and worked with him - just make sure you do careful historiography with these sources (OPVL OPVL OPVL) and understand the motives behind why these people may have written what they did at the time. For example, Trotsky’s opinions in the first article were likely influenced by Kamenev and Zinoviev having been members of the Joint Opposition alongside him, and the fact that Kamenev had, at his trial, called Trotsky a fellow “terrorist conspirator”. Therefore, Trotsky would have wanted to show that (a) he was aware and disapproved of Kamenev and Zinoviev’s mistakes (which were widely known of in the Party), (b) Kamenev’s damning statements were made under duress and therefore, incorrect, and (c) despite their shortcomings, his former alllies were good comrades and loyal Bolsheviks at heart. As for Lenin’s speech/rant, Kamenev had, at the time, recently and publicly criticised Lenin’s decision to launch the coup d’etat that October - understandably, Lenin was not a happy chappy. Similarly, his statement in his 1924 ‘Last Testament’ that “the October episode was, of course, no accident, but neither can the blame for it be laid upon [Kamenev and Zinoviev] personally” was made on his deathbed 7 years after the incident, by which time Lenin had definitely calmed the fuck down.
So anyway, I apologise for the rambling nature of this post but I hope this helped you get a head start on your Kamenev research. Again, do some more digging on the Bolshevik section of marxists.org and I’m sure you’ll run into more Kamenev stuff.
Long live Kamenoviev!
Long live Kamenev’s beard!
Maximilien Robespierre in his speech of 23 December 1789
Robespierre was one of the most prominent voices against antisemitism during the French Revolution. Here, he picks apart the stereotypes attributed to European Jews as faulty, noting that the very professions which Jews were said to unfairly dominate were, in fact, the only professions they were allowed to pursue under discriminatory laws. Robespierre’s stance on antisemitism departed significantly from the freedom-by-assimilation theory put forth by Voltaire and other philosophes throughout the Enlightenment.
Unfortunately for France’s Jews, Robespierre’s speech had little effect on age old prejudices. The following day, the Constituent Assembly voted to exclude Jews from the ability to hold public office. They would not gain this right until the final months of 1791.
Comment a-t-on pu, s’écrioit M. Robespierre, opposer aux Juifs les persécutions dont ils ont été les victimes chez différens peuples ? ce sont, au contraire des crimes nationaux que nous devons expier, en leur rendant les droits imprescriptibles de l’homme, dont aucune puissance humaine ne pouvoit les dépouiller. On leur impute encore des vices et les préjugés, l’esprit de secte et d’intérêt les exagèrent, mais à quoi pouvons-nous les imputer, si ce n’est à nos propres injustices ? Après les avoir exclus de tous les honneurs, même des droits à l’estime publique, nous ne leur avons laissé que les objets de spéculations lucratives ? [sic] Rendons les au bonheur, à la patrie, à la vertu en leur rendant la dignité d’hommes et de citoyens ; Songeons qu’il ne peut jamais être politique quoiqu’on puisse dire, de condamner à l’avilissement et à l’oppression, une multitude d’hommes qui vivent au milieu de nous. Comment l’intérêt social pourroit il [sic] être fondé sur la violation des principes éternels de la justice et de la raison, qui sont les bases de toute société humaine.
Le Point du Jour rapporte le discours de Robespierre du 23 décembre 1789, Œuvres de Maximilien Robespierre, t. VI, p. 168.
(La première phrase (“On vous a dit sur les Juifs des choses infiniment exagérées et souvent contraires à l’histoire”) vient du Bulletin de l’Assemblée nationale. La suite y est différente, et fort abrégée.)