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3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,001 Ratings  ·  69 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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33rd out of 297 books — 246 voters
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7th out of 83 books — 21 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 2,158)
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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
Feb 16, 2010 Danj816 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2007 Robert Brown rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2014 Paul Bustion rated it it was ok
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
Aug 28, 2012 Elena rated it it was amazing
"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
Jul 08, 2011 Riley rated it liked it
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
Jan 18, 2015 Ali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it
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
Joel Mitchell
Jan 19, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it liked it
This was my first extensive reading on the life of Joseph Stalin (or the Bolsheviks and rise of the Soviet Union for that matter). I understand that the Soviet propaganda machine fairly thoroughly censored, revised, and otherwise mangled many records related to this period in history, but (as the book's subtitle indicates) Edvard Radzinsky claims to have reconstructed a fairly accurate picture of Stalin's life from previously classified documents.

Most of the book sounds thoroughly researched an
Vijayan Haridas
Jan 27, 2014 Vijayan Haridas rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 25, 2008 Christian Bauman rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 14, 2014 Pedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
حتی هنگام خواندن صفحات آخر کتاب هم نمیتوانستم باور کنم رئیس هم میتواند بمیرد.
Aug 27, 2012 Philip rated it liked it

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
Jul 29, 2011 Jim Talbott rated it it was amazing
An incredibly entertaining book, Radzinsky creates a portrait that summarizes much of what was both compelling and horrible about Stalin.
Edy Gies
Aug 16, 2014 Edy Gies rated it it was amazing
I loved this book not exactly a page turner but it does show how completely evil Stalin was. The end was chilling and poignant.
James Tomkinson
Dec 20, 2015 James Tomkinson rated it it was amazing
Based on additional detailed information revealed during Glasnost, this history gives horrifying details on how this manacle dictator ruthlessly managed his leaders and people through suspicion and terror. Imagine a company that knocked off its top 10 percent best people every years, and that is what left Stalin having to manage every detail of war and production with the remaining incompetents, as his best and brightest people were rotting in gulags. Having been abused by his father and later b ...more
Rithun Regi
Jan 31, 2013 Rithun Regi rated it really liked it
Comprehensive read on Stalin. Compulsive reading.Stalin was more evil than Hitler.
Nick Wallace
Feb 26, 2009 Nick Wallace rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully presented biography of one of history's great bastards.
Oct 05, 2011 Marisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Well researched and compelling - read like a novel.
John Yiannoudis
Sep 22, 2012 John Yiannoudis rated it really liked it
detailed, innovative approach. A bit tiresome due to size
Rashmi Raut
Apr 10, 2013 Rashmi Raut rated it it was amazing
The foreword is beautiful. The writer got me there!~
Jul 04, 2009 Ns rated it it was amazing
Great writer; great access to materials.
Rick Ludwig
Oct 25, 2011 Rick Ludwig rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2011 Leon Keylin rated it really liked it
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
Oct 23, 2013 Anthony Hughes rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 06, 2014 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing
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.
Oct 01, 2009 Stefania rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
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
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