|The first full-scale biography of Stalin in twenty years reveals the complex and fascinating story of the Soviet dictator, from his dysfunctional childhood in Soviet Georgia, through his education and early political activism, to his tyrannical control over the Soviet Union and the legacy of his reign. *Author: Service, Robert *Subtitle: A Biography *Publication Date: 2006/10/31 *Number of Pages: 715 *Binding Type: Paperback *Language: English *Depth: 1.50 *Width: 6.00 *Height: 9.00|
From the Publisher:
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.
"Service's chief merit is his complete command of the period, the archives, and both the Russian and English languages. This is an exceptionally well-written book." - Donald Rayfield October, 2004 New York Times
"...Robert Service takes a very slow walk around his gargantuan subject, patiently assembling the facts, sifting through the archival record and judiciously weighing the evidence....Persistence pays off. STALIN...presents a richly documented highly persuasive portrait....Mr. Service constructs a solid, accessible work that does as much as one book can to explain Stalin as a human being, and as the architect of a system that still weighs heavy on millions of citizens in the former Soviet Union." - William Grimes 04/13/2005