Book Description

Review ?Authoritative, fluently written. . . . The pinnacle of current scholarship on its subject.??Charlotte Hobson, Spectator (Charlotte Hobson Spectator 2015-05-23)?Oleg Khlevniuk is incontestably the best Russian student of Soviet history.? In this biography, he uses his experience and talents to give us an innovative and convincing portrait of the Soviet ?micromanaging? despot.? The chapters dealing with the Terror, war, victory and the tragic postwar years break new ground.? Stalin?s political and private life, his relationships with his immediate circle, his family and the ?Soviet people,? his intellectual capacities and his way of leading the country, as well as his cruelty and the system of power he built, come vividly to life, and one leaves the book with a much more profound understanding of some of Europe?s darkest decades.??Andrea Graziosi, author of the Histoire de l'URSS (Andrea Graziosi)'Oleg Khlevniuk, master of the Russian archives, provides a fresh and acute analysis of Stalin the destroyer to confound revisionists who portray him as a state builder and modernizer.'?Alfred J. Rieber, author of?Stalin and the Struggle for Eurasia (Alfred J. Rieber)'Khlevniuk is one of the most knowledgeable historians of Stalin and his?era. This excellent biography of Stalin represents the current state of scholarship, and should be read widely.'?Hiroaki Kuromiya, author of Stalin: Profiles in Power (Hiroaki Kuromiya)?'A superb account by the eminent scholar who pioneered the opening of the Soviet archives. Oleg Khlevniuk summarizes a lifetime of research, eschewing unsubstantiated anecdotes and tales and sticking to the documentary record, to produce an authoritative narrative of Stalin?s life and times.'?Paul Gregory, Hoover Institution (Paul Gregory)'Enthralling,?brilliant, and groundbreaking, this book?confirms Khlevniuk as probably the greatest living expert on Stalin. The culmination of his?revelatory?archivally-researched works?that were the first to?understand Stalin as a politician, the book reveals him as a fanatical Marxist and Russian statesman?of?exceptional but flawed complexity?formed above all by his political life and the idiosyncratic realities of Soviet power. Essential reading.'?Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Stalin: the?Court of the Red Tsar (Simon Sebag Montefiore)'Oleg Khlevniuk makes the modest claim that this is a biography of Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union for thirty years. In fact, Khlevniuk has given us not just a biography of Stalin, but a history of the ruling system that Stalin created, and he does so in six concise chapters. Khlevniuk writes with clarity and insight, following the evolution of Stalin from young revolutionary, to undisputed dictator, and finally to ruthless despot, alone and dying as his subordinates cower and hope for the end. The translation by Nora Favorov is excellent, and makes the book easily accessible to English reading audiences. Khlevniuk's biography of Stalin is a deft achievement.'?David Shearer, author of Policing Stalin?s Socialism: Social Order and Mass Repression in the Soviet Union, 1924-1953 (David Shearer)?Oleg Khlevniuk?s biography adds greatly to our understanding of Stalin by making extensive and careful use of newly available archives to throw new light on Stalin?s rule. His clear-eyed analysis draws a sharp distinction between what we know from serious research and what we should discard as mere speculation. The result is an unvarnished account that warns against nostalgia for Stalin?s rule.??David Holloway, author of Stalin and the Bomb (David Holloway)'In this excellent book, Oleg Khlevniuk answers questions that have engaged historians, puzzled political scientists, and fascinated casual observers for decades. How did Stalin rise from a minor revolutionary to one of the most powerful men in history? How did he manage to first defeat contenders within the Soviet leadership, then to subordinate the Communist Party and the Red Army to his personal authority, to eventually build an empire whose specter haunts Eastern Europe to the present day? And crucially, why didn?t anyone stop him before it was too late???Milan Svolik, author of The Politics of Authoritarian Rule (Milan Svolik)?Khlevniuk manages to take us into the inner sanctum of the dictator's power and show how he ruled his subordinates?indeed the whole country?through the knout and the ginger cookie, the Russian version of carrot and stick. A masterly portrait drawn by a master historian.??Ronald Grigor Suny, author of?The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (Ronald Grigor Suny)?No one in the world knows the inner workings of Soviet power in Stalin?s time better than Oleg Khlevniuk. Beautifully and artfully composed, deeply moral, and supremely readable, Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator will become the benchmark against which all future biographies of Stalin will be measured. A masterpiece.??Jan Plamper, author of The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power (Jan Plamper)?A very digestible biography, yet one packed with revelations. . . . If you read just one biography this year, make it this one.??Paul E. Richardson, Russian Life magazine (Paul E. Richardson Russian Life magazine)?Superb . . . deeply informed and utterly compelling . . . What [Khlevniuk] highlights is so frequently new and revealing that the portrait in the end seems more accurate and complete than anything before. ?Favorov?s masterful translation from the Russian preserves the book?s spare, penetrating prose.? ?Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs (Robert Legvold Foreign Affairs)Won the 2016 PROSE Award in Biography & Autobiography. The Prose Awards recognize the very best in professional and scholarly publishing. Presented by the?Professional Schoarly Publishing (PSP) Dision of the Associaton of American Publishers (AAP)? (Award PROSE 2016-02-08)Awarded second prize for the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize for the Best Russian book in translation. (Pushkin House Russian Book Prize Pushkin House 2016-05-03) Read more From the Author Why do we need another biography of Stalin? Rarely have so many new sources of information become available within a short period as with the opening of the Stalin-era Soviet archives. I saw it as my task to weave the most salient new information into a narrative that rests entirely on what we know for certain about Stalin and his time. ? Was Stalin necessary? Decades ago the British historian Alec Nove asked, 'Was Stalin really necessary?' Everyone knows what a brutal murderer Stalin was, but many believe that 'the trains ran on time.' The evidence, however, points to catastrophic mismanagement. Nothing in Stalin's background qualified him to take dictatorial control of a vast country, reorganize its agriculture, or serve as its chief military strategist. To the end, he remained willfully blind to the fact that he had built an unworkable system. ? You have been among the first to explore Stalin's personal archive. What discovery from this collection most surprised you?? It is interesting that Stalin kept the coerced confessions of the Old Bolsheviks whom he condemned to death. He, of course, knew they were innocent, but for some reason he needed these confessions. Maybe he felt they would justify his actions to posterity? ? Beside the lost lives, what, for you, is the greatest tragedy of the Stalinist legacy? I am frightened that so many of our fellow Russians proclaim the Stalinist period to represent the pinnacle of the country's achievement and that we should use Stalinist methods to return Russia to glory. They refuse to see the horrible price paid. Stalin's admirers regard human life as expendable?the needs of the state come first?and are eager to hunt down twenty-first century 'enemies.' This totalitarian mindset is Stalin's most terrifying legacy. Read more See all Editorial Reviews