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Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives Paperback – August 18, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (August 18, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385479549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385479547
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Granted privileged access to Russia's secret archives, Edvard Radzinsky has broken down the iron curtain of myth, secrecy and lies that has surrounded Stalin's life and career, painting a picture of the Soviet strongman as more calculating, ruthless and blood-crazed than has ever been described or imagined. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Russian historian and playwright Radzinsky, whose bestselling The Last Tsar chronicled the assassination of the Romanov royal family, has produced a vivid, astonishingly intimate biography of Joseph Stalin. By drawing heavily on previously unavailable primary-source documents in recently opened party, state and KGB archives, he portrays the Soviet dictator as even more sadistic and methodically demoniacal than Western historians had supposed. Pointing to the young revolutionary's repeated escapes and trips abroad, Radzinsky builds an intriguing circumstantial case that Stalin was a double agent working for both the Bolshevik cause and the czarist secret police. He documents how Lenin recruited Stalin into terrorist violence and used him to tame and crush dissidence within the party ranks. Through interviews with Stalin's granddaughter and with the niece of Nadezhda Alliluyeva, the dictator's wife, Radzinsky pieces together the violent quarrel between Stalin and his wife that led to her suicide weeks before she was to have major surgery. Using oral testimonies, the author deduces that Stalin's murderous anti-Semitic campaign of 1953?whose goal was the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Siberia and Kazakhstan?was a prelude to his plan to launch a third world war. Radzinsky also tracked down one of Stalin's bodyguards, Peter Lozgachev, whose testimony that Stalin's guards deliberately denied him medical attention and left him to die adds weight to the author's hypothesis that Stalin was eliminated by close aide Lavrenti Beria (who reportedly boasted, "I took him out") as part of a conspiracy to avert nuclear Armageddon. Stalin died in 1953, aged 74 by standard sources, although Radzinsky maintains he was a year older. Photos. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The book is very well written, and is a highly enjoyable read.
Lee F. Bonaldi
Edvard Radzinsky uses a fast-paced and very engrossing style in this single volume biography of Joseph Stalin.
D. Brown
Cold, ruthless acts like these lend weight to Radzinsky's idea of Stalin as the master puppeteer.
Gene Bromberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 65 people found the following review helpful By P. Bjel on August 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book over a year ago, yet the images it conveys still disturb me. First recommended to be by an uncle, I read it to further understand why and how Communism acquired such a nasty reputation, and it did not take long to learn that Joseph Stalin was the focal point behind this �bad rap.� Even though this book is a translation from Russian, it reads and flows well; Radzinsky is an excellent writer. His book first appeared in 1996, almost in the form of a breakthrough, because it used newly declassified Russian documents on Stalin, who took every effort in purging archives (and people) in keeping his life and details a secret.
Radzinsky meticulously chronicles the life of Stalin (born as Iosif Dzhugashvili in Georgia) from his troubled and rabble-rousing youth growing up in the Caucasus, to his life as a young revolutionary at Lenin�s side. Radzinsky writes that during those years, Stalin went through two transitions: one as �Soso,� the child, and as �Koba,� the revolutionary. With gripping narration, he chronicles how Stalin (his nom de guerre) scrambled for absolute power following the death of Lenin, the founder of Bolshevism.
What stands out in Radzinsky�s biography is not just the now-illuminated life of Stalin, which had deliberately been shrouded in mystery and speculation for fifty years, but more importantly the details of Stalin�s crimes. Although known for his complacency in mass murder during his years in power, both sympathizers and others that wanted to keep Stalin�s tyranny a secret never revealed the full extent of such crimes. Radzinsky chronicles them, and shows that this malevolent dictator was even more blood-crazed and paranoid than ever imagined.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Gene Bromberg on February 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
The common view of Stalin is that he was a paranoid psychopath who murdered tens of millions due to his own insecurites. Radzinsky's view is different-- he believes that every move Stalin made during his long, bloody career was carefully calculated, that he always stayed a few steps ahead of his foes. He makes the quite convincing case that Stalin instilled terror as the primary characteristic of the Soviet regime because Stalin recognized early on that terror alone could keep the people and the Party obedient.
The Stalin Radzinsky presents is a far more sinister and frightening figure than a mere psychotic. It describes a man of extraordinary evil, not just a psychological case study. Even if you don't buy all the theories that the author presents, Radzinsky's writing is so energetic and dramatic that you can't help but be fascinated, horribly fascinated by this man who probably murdered more people than anyone in history.
While many people prefer to think of Stalin as insane, Radzinsky presents compelling evidence to support his view. This was, after all, a man who seized power from some very ambitious men who were enormously skilled at treachery. He took power and then over the course of 30 years ruthlessly and methodically crushed anyone who even vaguely threatened his position. He killed his enemies, his friends, his family-- no one was safe.
And he didn't just destroy these people-- he made them destroy themselves. Radzinsky's descriptions of the great show trials are the most interesting part of the book, because archives show that Stalin not only orchestrated the trials but also even wrote much of the dialogue the condemned men happily parroted from the dock.
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313 of 392 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Mendelssohn on November 13, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book with great expectations and was incredibly disappointed, to the point of anger.
Stalin was undoubtedly a monster, but this book treats its subject matter, especially during the crucial revolution and war periods, as if it were a cartoon. This alone is forgivable. What is not forgivable are gross distortions of facts and in some cases out and out lies regarding history.
For example, Radzinsky claims the following:
1. Stalin had Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad blessed by a parade of holy icons after the German invasion (as a result of prompting by the orthodox church). Radzinsky claims that this is the ONLY book that exposes this. Why? Well, this is the only book because this didn't happen.
2. Radzinsky claims that the Americans gave into Stalinist blackmail for a part in post-war Japan policy after Stalin threatened to expose the Americans' theft of Japan's national gold. This is a simple lie.
3. America only occupied Japan as 'they already lost China.' China fell to communism in 1949, four years later, and Mao and the Soviets always had a strained relationship.
4. Zhukov received the unconditional German surrender. False, Eisenhower did and the Soviet Marshall who signed the document was executed the next week in Moscow for doing it without Stalin's approval.
5. Stalin was planning on fighting the West just prior to his death, as he had the H-bomb first. A big lie - the Americans tested the first fusion bomb in 1952 and had a working weapon soon thereafter. The Soviets didn't have a test until after Stalin's death.
6. The only minority in the Soviet Union to help the Germans was the Chechyans - only if you ignore the Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Cossacks, etc. Radzinsky ultimately contradicts himself.
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