I just finished my first novel of my vacation: Seven Days to Petrograd by Tom Hyman. It’s about an attempt to assassinate Lenin as he goes from Switzerland to the Finland station to Petrograd, all via Germany and Sweden. The book jacket quotes the Washington Post‘s comment that “What Frederick Forsyth did in The Day of the Jackal . . . Hyman Does Here.” True, but he doesn’t do it as well. Still, it’s good.

I found two passages worth quoting on EconLog because they’re both about taking responsibility for one’s own life.

Bauer, mentioned in the first quote, is the guy trying to assassinate Lenin.

In Bauer’s eyes, Marx’s social theories had victimized his father far more than the railroad ever did. Karl Marx invited his father to hide from himself and from the reality around him. It was Marx who fed him the excuses he needed to explain away his miserable lot in life and to justify his not making any effort to improve it. It was all somebody else’s fault–the fault of the government, the fault of the system, the fault of the ruling classes. His father was a sucker, he decided. He had let others control his life.

Later he’s talking to a woman about his life and his failures. I won’t name the woman because that would be too much of a spoiler.

Bauer braced his hands on the edge of the chest’s marble top and leaned forward. “I could have been [a great star in baseball]. But I only got to play two seasons. I gave the owner of my team a hard time, so he fired me. I was a dumb, hotheaded kid. I pushed too hard to get more money out of him, and when I didn’t get it, I started raising hell–on the field and off. I was my own worst enemy. I couldn’t get a job in professional baseball after that. The owners blackballed me.”

“Sounds to me as if the owner exploited you for his own profit, then callously discarded you when it suited him. You were a victim of capitalist greed.” [DRH note: It shouldn’t be surprising that this member of Lenin’s travel party is a Marxist.]

“I guess it could seem that way. But it was his team. I could have started my own team if I’d had the money.”

Clearly Bauer learned from his father’s mistake: he blamed himself rather than the system or a team owner.