Stalin: A Biography

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 715 pages
29 Reviews

Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.

Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.

Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge.

Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
9
4 stars
14
3 stars
3
2 stars
3
1 star
0

Review: Stalin

User Review  - Czarny Pies - Goodreads

This is a very well researched book. Robert Service makes the disconcerting decision to draw a balanced portrait of Stalin rather than simply demonizing him. Stalin was a poet, a charmer, a politician ... Read full review

Review: Stalin

User Review  - Zeb Larson - Goodreads

A nice, comprehensive biography that presents as balanced a portrait of Stalin as possible. Prose is a bit uninspired at times and for once I'd like more personal anecdotes, if only for the black humor. Read full review

Contents

STALIN AS WE HAVE KNOWN HIM
3
THE FAMILY DZHUGHASHVILI
13
THE SCHOOLING OF A PRIEST
23
POET AND REBEL
32
MARXIST MILITANT
43
THE PARTY AND THE CAUCASUS
56
ON THE RUN
68
AT THE CENTRE OF THE PARTY
81
THE GREAT TERRORIST
346
THE CULT OF IMPERSONALITY
357
BRUTAL REPRIEVE
367
WARLORD
377
THE WORLD IN SIGHT
379
APPROACHES TO WAR
390
THE DEVILS SUP
399
BARBAROSSA
410

KOBA AND BOLSHEVISM
92
OSIP OF SIBERIA
102
RETURN TO PETROGRAD
113
LEADER FOR THE PARTY
125
THE YEAR 1917
127
OCTOBER
140
PEOPLES COMMISSAR
150
TO THE FRONT
163
THE POLISH CORRIDOR
175
WITH LENIN
186
NATION AND REVOLUTION
197
TESTAMENT
208
THE OPPORTUNITIES OF STRUGGLE
219
JOSEPH AND NADYA
230
FACTIONALIST AGAINST FACTIONS
240
DESPOT
251
ENDING THE NEP
253
TERRORECONOMICS
265
ASCENT TO SUPREMACY
276
THE DEATH OF NADYA
289
MODERNITYS SORCERER
299
FEARS IN VICTORY
310
RULING THE NATIONS
323
MIND OF TERROR
336
FIGHTING ON
420
SLEEPING ON THE DIVAN
430
TO THE DEATH
439
SUPREME COMMANDER
449
THE BIG THREE
459
LAST CAMPAIGNS
469
VICTORY
478
THE IMPERATOR
489
DELIVERING THE BLOW
491
THE OUTBREAK OF THE COLD WAR
501
SUBJUGATING EASTERN EUROPE
511
STALINIST RULERSHIP
521
POLICIES AND PURGES
531
EMPEROR WORSHIP
541
DANGEROUS LIAISONS
551
VOZHD AND INTELLECTUAL
560
AILING DESPOT
571
DEATH AND EMBALMING
581
AFTER STALIN
591
Glossary
605
Notes
608
Select Bibliography
661
Index
681
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Robert W. Service was born in London about 1874. He had a convoluted life that involved much moving around, from Scotland, to England, to Canada, to California. He worked in banks, was a war correspondent for the Toronto Star and an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross, and he served as an intelligence officer in the Canadian Army in World War I. In 1907, he published his first book of poetry, The Spell of the Yukon, and Other Verses This book included the well-known poem "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and this first brought him public recognition. In 1909, he left his banker's job and began writing his first novel, The Trail of the '98. He married in 1913 and the couple had a daughter. In 1921, Service went to Hollywood to work on a film version of Dan McGrew. In later life, he devoted himself to writing and traveling and he died in Brittany, France, in 1958.

Bibliographic information