Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

‘Young Stalin’: Portrait of the dictator as a young man

Simon Sebag Montefiore has told the story of Stalin’s life in power in “Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar,” and his second foray into the life of the Soviet Union’s dictator is just as fascinating.

Indeed, after reading “Young Stalin,” I checked “Red Tsar” out to re-read it.

The opening of archives across Russia has led to some amazing revelations about the former USSR and its leaders. Josef Stalin’s young life had been chronicled before, of course, but Montefiore explodes the lies and apocryphal tales, many told by Stalin himself, to get at the truth of the man.

The son of a brutal, alcoholic shoemaker, Stalin emerges from the tumult of Georgia (recently in the news for its fight and short war with Russia) to create chaos, whether it’s in the oil refining realm or in the streets of his city, where he planned bank robberies to fund the Party.

Stalin the revolutionary leaves sons by various women across the crumbling Russian empire, intrigues with – and against – Lenin, and endures exiles (from which he repeatedly escapes) for his many crimes against the Czarist rulers of a nation.

Why was Stalin so brutal? Why did he inflict so much suffering on his people?

A reading of “Young Stalin” is an exploration of how one man can control a whole nation of hundreds of millions of people, and continues to influence events to this day.


January 17, 2009 - Posted by | Vinny's Book Club | , , , ,

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