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Young Stalin Paperback – October 14, 2008
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About the Author
SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE is a historian of Russia and the Middle East. Catherine the Great and Potemkin was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. Young Stalin won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Award, and le Grande Prix de la biographie politique. Jerusalem: The Biography was a worldwide best seller. Montefiore’s books are published in more than forty languages. He is the author of the novels Sashenka and One Night in Winter, which won the Paddy Power Political Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2014. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Montefiore graduated from Cambridge University, where he received his PhD. He lives in London.
- ASIN : 1400096138
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (October 14, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 528 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781400096138
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400096138
- Item Weight : 1.06 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #359,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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One note....I think the author good have edited the starting chapters on Stalin's boyhood....kind of repetitive and cycling back and forth....a bit jarring....but still a great read.
My favorite elements are the wonderous descriptions of how pleasant Siberian exile was for the protagonists as exemplified by the following referenced quotation of Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov:
I eat fish. My landlady makes me pies. I have sturgeon, white salmon with battered potatoes and cavier, salted sturgeon, sometimes I eat them raw. I feel too energyless even to add vinegar. I’ve ended all regular life. I eat irregularly. I study nothing. I go to sleep at odd times. Sometimes I walk for the whole night, sometimes I sleep at 10 am.
I think any city dweller in America would sign up for that torture.
Great historians sometimes lose their compass which is what I am afraid happened in this publication.
Top reviews from other countries
This volume takes Stalin from his childhood, up to 1917, and encompasses so much. I knew very little about Stalin, before reading this, and so this was full of surprises for me. It begins with a bank raid – of which Stalin was involved in many – to get money for the cause. Montefiore writes as though this is fiction, rather than fact, and really draws the reader in.
Mind you, much of Stalin’s life reads like fiction. We have the poverty stricken childhood, the over-protective mother, and violent, drunken father. A child who is obviously bright, and intelligent, whose father is opposed to his receiving an education. Always in trouble, always rebellious, Stalin’s young life contained many contradictions. He almost became a priest, was always an obsessive reader and inspired great loyalty, friendship and love. Yet, he was argumentative, took deep dislikes to people, held a grudge, was thin skinned and was, indeed, always in trouble. In later years, this resulted in several visits to prison and to exile, including to Siberia. The book states, “a little piece of Siberia remained lodged in Stalin for the rest of his life.”
I enjoyed this biography immensely and look forward to reading on with the second volume in this biography.
While there are some masterly works out there, as the acclaimed biography by Robert Service, and Oleg Krasniuk’s updated study, making full use of the archives, a reader may ask the question, why bother with Young Stalin?
The account of Stalin’s early life may not be first on the list for a scholar who concerns themselves with moments that shaped the 20th century, but in Young Stalin, the reader is introduced to the harsh world that shaped the Soviet Dictator.
Young Stalin takes the reader back into the lost world of late 19th and early 20th century Georgia, a place of austere religious traditions, coupled with a harsh dog eat dog lifestyle, to his abandoned seminary days, to the key moments that shaped the Red Tsar, when he discovered Marxism and became an agitator supreme.
Stalin lived an extraordinary life, stirring up strikes, sabotaging the oil industry, robbing banks, and operating like a true street criminal, when he wasn’t whisked away into Siberian exile.
The parts of the book concerning Siberian exile are particularly poignant, and are a true delight for the senses.
The latter part of the book offers a highly readable account of the October Revolution, and gives the readers an overview of the fates of the cast of characters.
Young Stalin is a true delight to read. It is a history, but it reads like a novel. Highly recommended, not just to enthusiasts of Russian history, but to anyone who enjoys a good read.
The text also contains various other devices (asterisks, crosses, stars etc.) that presumably refer to other notes but not as hyperlinks so these notes are missing completely.
Also 1, particularly in dates, rather strangely become i as in the i October!
Didn’t spoil the book but didn’t help!