From Publishers Weekly As Stalin's police chief, right-hand man and commander of the Gulag slave-labor network, Lavrenty Beria (1899-1953) was a mass murderer whose weapons included torture, deportation and execution. Yet, after Stalin died in 1953, this devious, cold-blooded Bolshevik embarked on a short-lived liberalization program designed to curb the Communist Party apparatus and to give the non-Russian minorities more decision-making powers and limited recognition of their national and cultural identities. Arrested in a coup led by Khrushchev, Beria was executed. Critics view Beria's de-Stalinization proposals as mere tools in a succession struggle, but Knight, a Library of Congress scholar who did extensive research in the former Soviet Union, portrays the Georgian-born police chief as a would-be reformer who saw change as inevitable but was motivated above all by a desire to further his own power. A provocative biography of one of history's most evil men. Photos. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more From Library Journal A strong entry in the wave of post-glasnost biographies, Knight's book is an accessible study of one of the most sinister members of Stalin's inner circle. Yet Knight, a senior research analyst in Soviet affairs at the Library of Congress, points out in her introduction that she is not attempting to 'rehabilitate' Beria but to 'challenge some basic assumptions, both about Beria and about the Stalinist system in general.' Using recently released documents, Knight succeeds in describing the life of Lavrentii Beria, from his student days in Baku, to his role as Stalin's most powerful henchmen, chief of security, and head of the slave-labor network in the gulag, to his rapid fall after the death of Stalin in the power struggles that brought Khrushchev to power. This work is recommended for undergraduates and informed lay readers.- John Sandstrom, Houston P.L., Tex.Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more See all Editorial Reviews
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