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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  973 ratings  ·  66 reviews
From the author of The Last Tsar, the first full-scale life of Stalin to have what no previous biography has entirely gotten hold of: the facts. Granted privileged access to Russia's secret archives, Edvard Radzinsky paints a picture of the Soviet strongman as more calculating, ruthless, and blood-crazed than has ever been described or imagined. Stalin was a man for whom p ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published August 18th 1997 by Anchor (first published 1995)
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Paul Bryant
What I remember very vividly from this one is that before the weird 1917 revolution the communists were like gangsters, they were on the run, they were holding up banks to finance the revolution, they were the rootingest tootingest shootingest communists in town, and young Jack Stalin was up for it, he was the Billy the Kid of the Caucasus, he was there when you needed him with his handy stick of dynamite. (I remember back in the 80s and 90s the IRA in Northern Ireland were exactly the same.) So ...more
I read this book in a span of about three or four weeks and could not put it down. It read like a novel and was very engrossing. It details every aspect of Stalin's life, first as the child Soso, then as the revolutionary Koba, and finally as the iron-willed dictator Stalin. The Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 is covered and then it details Stalin's rise in the Party. In 1922 he became General Secretary and two years later Lenin died setting in motion the power struggle that took place over ...more
Robert Brown
I love biographies. I like that this one doesn't pull any punches. It starts off by comparing Stalin to Hitler and Russian communism to Nazi-ism in terms of how many people died as a result of the two people and political system. After reading this book, I find Stalin's Russia even more evil than Hitler's Germany, and that's saying a lot.
Oct 03, 2012 Derek is currently reading it
The author's purpose of Stalin is to entertain and inform. I think the author's purpose is to entertain. I think the author Edvard Radzinsky wanted to entertain the readers or Stalin because many people think it is very entertaining to learn about the role some leaders had in Wold War II. I think another one of the authors purposes was to inform because he is letting all the readers of Stalin know how much of an impact Joseph Stalin had in World War II. So overall I think the authors purposes we ...more
Paul Bustion
I read this book when I was in the ninth grade. I did not like it. It is full of conspiracy theories and garbage. For example the author claims that the USSR was planning to attack Germany first without producing any documents supporting his claim directly, only his own interpretation of the documents. He also focuses on Stalin's alleged anti-Semitism. I do not agree that Stalin was anti-Semitic. Even though he murdered many Jews in the USSR's government, he basically replaced them with other Je ...more
"And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation...and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast should speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain." —Revelation 13:7, 15

"If My requests are not granted, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world raising up wars and persecutions against the Church, the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various
This is a lively, well-written and dramatic biography of Stalin. That said, it doesn't break very much new ground, and some of Edvard Radzinsky's theories seem to lack solid historical support: that Hitler invaded Russia only as Stalin was planning to attack Germany, or that Stalin was plotting a final nuclear holocaust before he died in 1953.

I was also skeptical of the author's use of the theory of "in-depth speech," under which the meaning of things said by Stalin and other Communists is inte
Despite being an easy entertaining and rather informative read, I'd be very careful recommending this book to others. The author seems to have some big claims for which historical evidences are just not strong enough. That being said though, reader can use his or her own judgment, disqualify the claims and learn about the factual evidences.
Mar 14, 2010 Delgee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is a good book.

Radzinksy has his facts and proves them. Sometimes he makes guesses but they are well calculated and predictable rather than some wild random ones. Overall I liked his writing style.

Reading the book, I wondered how someone could be so stone-hearted devoid of compassion toward another human being same as himself. I wonder how he dealt with it inside himself. Probably something like: "For the greater good" was always on his mind.

One thing to mention about the author is even tho
Vijayan Haridas
Ever since the day I was introduced to history in my schooling days it became one of my pet subjects. I just had the urge to understand how it was way before my time. Of of all the topics which captured my full attention were the happenings of WWI and WWII. Zooming into that topic, the history of USSR under the rule of Joseph Stalin totally captured my attention. When mentioned that USSR was ruled with an Iron First by the dictator, I just had a vague understanding to that sentence till I got my ...more
Downright scary. But the author, with the aid of access to previously secret USSR official files, was probably better at getting inside the mind of a bloodthirsty monster like Stalin than anyone else previously could do. I can totally understand why Edvard Radzinsky has his reputation as the top historical biographer in Russia today. I'm looking forward to reading more of his stuff.
Christian Bauman
This has been sitting on my shelf unread since 2004 or so. I do that with biographies, especially big ones: buy them and them give them time to breathe. Anyway, not long shy of reading Amis's House of Meetings, was reminded I was overdue on this.
حتی هنگام خواندن صفحات آخر کتاب هم نمیتوانستم باور کنم رئیس هم میتواند بمیرد.

The research and information contained in the book is very good. So if you need a resource for the life of Joseph Stalin and his part in history I highly recommend it. It is well written.
Jim Talbott
An incredibly entertaining book, Radzinsky creates a portrait that summarizes much of what was both compelling and horrible about Stalin.
Edy Gies
I loved this book not exactly a page turner but it does show how completely evil Stalin was. The end was chilling and poignant.
Rithun Regi
Comprehensive read on Stalin. Compulsive reading.Stalin was more evil than Hitler.
Nick Wallace
A wonderfully presented biography of one of history's great bastards.
Well researched and compelling - read like a novel.
John Yiannoudis
detailed, innovative approach. A bit tiresome due to size
Rashmi Raut
The foreword is beautiful. The writer got me there!~
Great writer; great access to materials.
Rick Ludwig
Edvard Radzinsky writes compelling and historically detailed biographies. I first read his "The Last Tsar" and found it fascinating. I received this book at about the same time, prior to my retirement, but was continually distracted from diving into it. Finally, on August 6, 2011, I began reading this tome and kept reading it, a bit at a time, through October 25, 2011. Why did it take me so long? I found myself mesmerized by the depiction of evil present in these pages. Stalin died a couple of y ...more
Leon Keylin
The research done in this book is solid. I read both Russian and English stories, articles, and even books on the recently (if you can call mid nineties that) opened archived by the FSB (then KGB).

Radzinsky does little to interfere with his opinion. He is solely the messenger here, the message is what has been rumored about, spoken of, conspired around, and basically shared in millions of dining rooms, "skomeyak" while old men played dominoes.

Most of what is projected to the reader has been kn
Anthony Hughes
Very good though it is really very difficult to get the full story given how many records were clearly destroyed, manipulated or lost during Stalin's murderous reign.

Radzinsky also relies a lot for his analysis on what he calls "in-depth language" (ironically the book is subtitled the first "in-depth" biography of Stalin). By this he means what was written down in official correspondence, orders etc (particularly by Stalin himself) was the opposite of what was really meant or what was to happen.
well researched and intriguing insight into the life of Stalin
i read it in a kindle version which was handy to keep track of the many different names of people in the book
despite the subject it is a fascinating book, anyone interested in the history of the USSR should read
it reminded me of books by solzhenitsyn

now and again the author gets carried away in trying to explain what motivated Stalin, so that it is not always clear what is fact and what is an informed guess by the author, i also do n
Eric Stamps
Oct 31, 2014 Eric Stamps rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Eric by: Eric Stamps
This read was fantastic. I now wish to read all of Radzinski's work. He tells the story with an awesome, hateful spite, the kind that only someone who grew up adoring Uncle Joe could convey after they see behind the curtain. This reads a bit like a movie, so get a coke and some popcorn and enjoy.
this is a disturbing, brutal portrait of stalin and a well-researched, eye-opening account of his reign of terror and fear. the american people are quite familiar with hitler's crimes against humanity, but these are reduced in comparison to the horrors and atrocities commited by stalin (i do not make this statement to diminish the horrors of the third reich). after wwii, hitler sacrificed six million people, while stalin's numbers have finally settled on an estimated 26 million people. human lif ...more
Timothy D. Cook, Jr.
Interesting look at a historical figure

Very informative, and quite obviously well-researched. The author paints a vivid picture of one of the most feared dictators of the 20th century. Worth reading for anyone interested in Russian history.
Matt McCormick
This book wasn't really a biography. It was more about the events around Stalin during his life and his influence. In fact, reading the book, it's almost as if Stalin is just in the background the whole time. There is little indication into his thinking or why he became what he did. I was very disappointed with this book. I also did not know much about the events in the Soviet Union so that may have played a part. This book is probably more for someone who already knows a lot about that time per ...more
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