A revelatory account that finally unveils the shadowy journey from obscurity to power of the Georgian cobblers son who became the Red Tsarthe man who, along with Hitler, remains the modern personification of evil.
What makes a Stalin? What formed this merciless psychopath who was, as well, a consummate politician, the dynamic world statesman who helped create and industrialize the USSR, outplayed Churchill and Roosevelt, organized Stalingrad, took Berlin and defeated Hitler?
Young Stalin tells the story of a charismatic, darkly turbulent boy born into poverty, of doubtful parentage, scarred by his upbringing but possessed of unusual talents. Admired as a romantic poet and trained as a priestboth by the time he was in his early twentieshe found his true mission as a fanatical revolutionary. A mastermind of bank robbery, protection rackets, arson, piracy and murder, he was equal parts terrorist, intellectual and brigand. Here is the dramatic story of his friendships and hatreds, his many love affairswith women from every social stratum and age grouphis illegitimate children and his complicated relationship with the Tsarist secret police. Here is Stalin the arch-conspirator and escape artist whose brutal ingenuity so impressed Lenin that Lenin made him, along with Trotsky, top henchman. Montefiore makes clear how the paranoid criminal underworld was Stalins natural habitat, and how murderous Caucasian banditry and political gangsterism, combined with pitiless ideology, enabled Stalin to dominate the Kremlinand create the USSR in his flawed image.
Based on ten years of research in newly opened archives in Russia and Georgia, Young Stalincompanion to the prizewinning Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsaris a brilliant prehistory of the USSR, a chronicle of the Revolution, and an intimate biography. A thrilling work of history, unparalleled in its scope, full of astonishing new evidence and utterly fascinating: this is how Stalin became Stalin.
Young Stalin superbly achieves the author's intention: to show the development and early maturity of the ultimate politician. What missing empathy in Stalin's upbringing allowed him to kill so easily, but equally what qualities equipped him so well for political life? Stalin's success was at least partly due to his unusual upbringing that combined a seminary education and street violence; he was that rare combination of intellectual and killer, "half Osama bin Laden, half Tony Soprano .... incredibly complex and subtle, both diabolical and terrifyingly seductive". (Reviewed by Vy Armour).
The Washington Post - Ronald Grigor Suny
Montefiore enfolds even what is familiar about Stalin in a vivid narrative rich with new details and sensational revelations.
The New York Times - William Grimes
Mr. Montefiore offers a detailed picture of Stalin's childhood and youth, his shadowy career as a revolutionary in Georgia and his critical role during the October Revolution. No one, henceforth, need ever wonder how it was that Stalin found his way into Lenin's inner circle, or took his place in the ruling troika that assumed power after the storming of the Winter Palace.
This accessible book is highly recommended.
[A] superb prequel to his Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar...Essential to understanding one of the 20th century's premier monsters and the nation he wrought.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Greg Cameron An excellent, if tendentious, book I experienced something of a split-screen reaction to Simon Sebag Montefiore's book "Young Stalin." First off, I would say that it is a provocative book that will change your view of one of history's great psychopaths forever. I am not in a... Read More
Born Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili in 1878, Stalin had as many as forty names, nicknames,
bylines and aliases throughout his life. He did not start to use the name
Stalin, meaning man of steel, until
Stalin began writing poetry while at school (mainly in a
romantic-pastoral style that was the convention for Georgian poets in the
1890s), and continued to
write until his death at age 74 in 1953. The dictator was also a keen
gardener, growing lemons, tomatoes, roses and mimosas.
Hitler and Stalin both had abusive fathers.
Stalin's wife, Nayda, committed suicide at age 31 (1932) and son, Yakov,
committed suicide at age 36 (1943).
In his early years, Stalin often avoided arrest for bank robberies by
dressing in drag. In 1913 a secret policeman spotted Stalin's big shoes under a
long dress, resulting in four years exile in Siberia, where winter lasts
nine months a year with temperatures as low as -65°C...
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