Stalin: Book summary and reviews of Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Stalin

The Court of the Red Tsar

By Simon Sebag Montefiore

Stalin
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2004,
    768 pages.

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Book Summary

Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes - as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag - has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin's reign are well known, this biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation - human, psychological and physical - that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him.

Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the life and lives of Stalin's court from the time of his acclamation as "leader" in 1929, five years after Lenin's death, until his own death in 1953 at the age of seventy-three. Through the lens of personality - Stalin's as well as those of his most notorious henchmen, Molotov, Beria and Yezhov among them - the author sheds new light on the oligarchy that attempted to create a new world by exterminating the old.

With attention to detail, Montefiore documents the crimes, small and large, of all the members of Stalin's court. And he traces the intricate and shifting web of their relationships as the relative warmth of Stalin's rule in the early 1930s gives way to the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the upheaval of World War II (with an acute account of Stalin's meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt) and the horrific postwar years when he terrorized his closest associates as unrelentingly as he did the rest of his country.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. By illustrating how Stalin acted in private, Montefiore has produced a landmark work that rounds out political biographies of the tyrant." Booklist.

"There are many Stalin biographies out there, but this fascinating work distinguishes itself by its extensive use of fresh archival material and its focus on Stalin's ever-changing coterie." - Publishers Weekly.

"[He] gives us an intimate look at Stalin himself and the culture of sadism, ruthlessness and dread that flourished around him, fueling a murderous regime that would leave tens of millions of people dead." - New York Times.

"This haunting book gets us as close as we are likely to come to the man who believed that 'the solution to every human problem was death.'" - The New Yorker.

"A fascinating, superbly written study of the Red Emperor Josef Stalin, "an energetic and vainglorious melodramatist who was exceptional in every way." - Kirkus Reviews.

The information about Stalin shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Simon Sebag Montefiore Author Biography

Photo © Hugo Burnand

Simon Sebag Montefiore was born in 1965 and read history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, where he received his Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD). Catherine the Great and Potemkin was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. Young Stalin won the Costa Biography Award (UK), the LA Times Book Prize for Biography (US), Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). Jerusalem: The Biography won the Jewish Book of the Year Prize, from the Jewish Book Council (USA). Dr Montefiore's books are published in forty languages. He is also the author of the novel, Sashenka. His new novel, One ...

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