Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator” as Want to Read:
Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  314 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
The most authoritative and engrossing biography of the notorious dictator ever written

Josef Stalin exercised supreme power in the Soviet Union from 1929 until his death in 1953. During that quarter-century, by Oleg Khlevniuk’s estimate, he caused the imprisonment and execution of no fewer than a million Soviet citizens per year. Millions more were victims of famine direct
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Yale University Press (first published May 1st 2015)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Stalin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Stalin

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Σωτήρης  Αδαμαρέτσος
Υποδειγματικα γραμμένη βιογραφία κ ως καταγραφή των προσωπικών στοιχείων του Στάλιν ως δικτάτορα κυβερνήτη αλλά κ ως ιστορία της Ρωσικής επανάστασης κ του μορφωματος της ΕΣΣΔ. Ο Khlevniuk έχει μελετήσει διεξοδικά κάθε σχετικό έγγραφο κ στοιχείο κ παραθέτει μια πληθώρα πληροφοριών, σκέψεων, ενεργειών, κινήσεων κ προθέσεων του δικτάτορα που έχουν ερευνηθεί κ εξακριβωθεί από πολλές μεριές. Ό,τι δεν μπόρεσε να διασταυρώσει δε, απλά δεν το αναφέρει καν.
Πολλά μπορεί να γράψει κανείς για το βιβλίο αφού
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
An excellent scholarly yet easy to read Stalin biography.

Oleg V. Khlevniuk has dug deep into the Russian archives to create this relatively concise by most biographical standards yet authoritative account of Stalin's life.

Whilst I was familiar with Stalin’s wartime role I was less familiar with his rise and the circumstances of his death. The author cleverly uses the dictators last days to bind a wide ranging account to a common point of reference and uses the circumstances of his death to effe
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5 close to 5. Definitely best book I've read this year yet... Well written, very readable and impressively informative. The latter is no surprising, taking into account that endnotes make up to almost 70 pages. Extremely impressive...
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good ol' Uncle Joe...

Josef Stalin's 24-year reign as the supreme power in the USSR resulted in the deaths of millions of its citizens, either directly, as a result of repression, or indirectly, as a result of the famines created in large part by the policies his government pursued. In this new biography, Oleg V Khlevniuk sets out to sift through the massive quantity of documentation available to historians, including material newly released from the archives, with a view to understanding the dic
Donna Davis
Although this book is published by Yale, Klehvniuk is a research fellow at the Russian national archives, and has devoted twenty years of his life to studying Stalin, the ruler that held much of Eastern Europe in an iron grasp from 1929-1953, when he died. That must be a really dark place, but he’s done a brilliant job. Many thanks go to Net Galley and Yale University Press for allowing me a free peek. This book is available for purchase right now.

The author tells us that revisionists have under
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Written in a more accessible style than the excellent Cold Peace and Master of the House, this is a solid, deeply-researched one-volume biography. If you are not intending to work your way through Kotkin's multi-volume Caro-esque biography, you will find more than enough updates to classic works like Robert Conquest's Breaker of Nations, to justify reading a new Stalin bio.
Luke White
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stunningly objective and sourced. A truly exciting look into this man’s life. His capacity for evil and limitless ego seem to be the driving forces behind his dictatorship. I’ve come away having a newfound understanding of the tyrant. If you want to understand Stalin, and contrast his mode of governance with that advocated by socialism, then read this book.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Lucid şi rezervat. O carte focusată pe contextul politic, spre deosebire de istoriile fascinante semnate de Montefiore. Marele avantaj al lui Hlevniuk? Faptul că e rus.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oleg Khlevniuk, qui a étudié la vie de Staline pendant plus de vingt ans, nous offre un travail passionnant qui résume le passé de Staline et sa politique, son quotidien mais également le quotidien de millions de Soviétiques durant son règne. Écrite dans un langage facile à comprendre, son œuvre passionnante nous raconte la biographie du dictateur cruel et sans pitié qui a gouverné l’Union Soviétique pendant trente ans. Le livre est divisé en deux parties : des chapitres expliquant sa
Jun 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Comparatively brief biography of the vile person who murdered millions. This is basically a political biography, though there is some attention to the man's private life. The main chapters are chronological, but after each, there's a shorter section that deals with what happened at the time of Stalin's stroke that resulted in his death. The way his cronies reacted (or didn't) is used as a springboard to make more general comments about the man's overall character and how it influenced people aro ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With So much about Russia in the news today, I realized I needed more context about Russia I had because of how little I knew about Stalin, who brutally ruled the Soviet Union for 29 years. During that time, he murdered millions of his own citizens and created a state of fear that is not easily forgotten. Khlevniuk is a Russian historian with deep access to Soviet era archives and therefore writes with authority and authenticity. I came away with several takeaways. First is that the Bolsheviks w ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Needless to say, there is already a vast, existing canon of literature out there on the Soviet dictator, by established authors such as Robert Service and Simon Sebag Montefiore, so the immediate question is, can Oleg Khlevniuk contribute to the already highly acclaimed works out there. The simple answer, is yes.
Much like Service and Montefiore, Khlevniuk has had access to the archives, and therefore has been able to shed more light on Stalin's life and rule. As such, the book takes a very analy
Dariusz Płochocki
Niestety masa błędów na poziomie tłumaczenia, jeżeli chodzi o samą historię wodza (cały czas mamy używane do znudzenia określenia "wożdia") autor na siłę chciał iśc na przekór większości historyków uważając, że jego dzieciństwo nie było szczególnie biedne. Wiele świadectw uznał za mało wiarygodne, jednak później sięga po podobnie mało wiarygodne mądrości. Duży plus za opis zabójstwa Kirowa, czy zwięzły opis generalissimusa. Stalin jest u niego przedewszystkim politykiem. Brak większego zagłębien ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
The book offers a cursory review of Stalin but mainly focused on defending arguments that are supported by newly opened archives. It reads as if it's a supplement for the moonlighting Stalin scholar. Almost no words are dedicated to the historical atmosphere at large.

I do applaud the book and the authors complete lack of apology for Stalin. I consider Stalin to be history's greatest monster of all time and certain powers in Russia today are trying to whitewash his image. This book acts as an im
Ryan Petrie
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Maybe I was spoiled by Jung Chang's 'Mao' biography, but I was hoping for more from this book.

I never really felt like I understood Stalin's motivations behind actions. This book just sort of a feels like a general overview of Stalin's life. The best parts of the book were when it intercut a narrative about the end of his life, and the book slowed down to dwell on things.
Oct 09, 2016 added it
Shelves: history
Excellent book. Extremely readable, and makes use of the latest archival evidence on Stalin and his life.
Jenni Schell
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle-books
This book was nothing short of amazing. There were so many things that I read that I had never read about Stalin before. GREAT JOB!!
Frank Deschain
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A rather unusual order to this narrative, with long straight chronological sections occasionally interrupted with shorter sections detailing the events surrounding Stalin's last illness and death and what followed, but these are clearly related to the events one has just read about in the chronological sections. Includes a great deal of information that became available only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the opening of its archives to scholars, although these new insights, while ...more
Dolf van der Haven
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
In the end I am still not sure what this book was supposed to tell me. I did not get to know Stalin as a person. I did not learn about the history of the USSR during his reign in any detail (the battle of Stalingrad was mentioned in half a sentence). I did get to know about boring Soviet bureaucracy and the infighting in the Politburo.
The author focuses repeatedly on minor details that were uncovered "now that the archives have opened" to the delight of "historians" (like him, I suppose).
I've be
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a difficult book to read, though not due to deficiencies on behalf of the author, but due to the subject (Stalin). Stalin was an unpleasant person to say the least, and reading about how he was responsible for the deaths (20 to 25 mil.) of so many people is sad. Nevertheless, this bio is short and succinct. Recommended for those with an interest in learning about the origins of Stalin, how he governed pre/during/post war Russia, and his political prowess.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have "heard" the audiobook. I have liked the non linear kind of biography with jumps and jump backs. It would be better a little more about the second world War.
It is amazing how Stalin understood fear as the only incentive for a freedom less society.
It is sad this regime is still popular.
Kaj Leers
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally finished this. An interesting read, with the author shying away from getting enthralled by either the anti- or pro-Stalin crowd. The facts speak for themselves. Well written biography of a wretched human being.
Bruce Sutherland
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent, well written history. A very good read for anyone wanting to understand Russia, and its relationship to the USA, China and Korea
خالد الحربي
لا زالت مستمر في قراءته
وصلت حتى الى ٣٠٠
كتاب ممتاز يحكي في كل فصل العشاء الاخير لستالين

ومن بعض ماجاء به
كيف رغب لينين عزل
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a well done biography of Josef Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union from 1929 to his death in 1953. Both in the beginning of the book and towards the end the author mentioned how some have recasted Stalin’s legacy for political purposes in Russia and one of the reason why the author wrote this book is to portray Stalin for who he really is historically. He acknowledges that this will go against the grain for Stalin apologists and those propagating political myths about Stalin and the ...more
Paul Higbee
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
Very good. A little dry. Focus is on archive enhanced view.
Miguel Martinez
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about Stalin and about the old Soviet Union grounded in the most updated documents about the epoch.
Some few thoughts that came over to me after reading the book:
- Stalin was a wolf, but a wolf among many other wolfs; he was the wolf that succeed. None of the bolsheviks had any problem in attacking whoever disagree. One need to remember that who recommended the expulsion of Trotsky from the Central Committee was Zinoviev and that in that moment what Stalin did is to comply, same th
Amar Pai
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
It was hard to read through this book because the scope of Stalin's evil was so breath taking. History's greatest monster. I had to flip through it. Stalin was a serial killer who got to run a vast country. He killed millions of people year in bloody purges, forced famines and labor camps.
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Two things make this an interesting read - first, it's written by a Russian, which gives the perspective on Stalin a different flavor than it would have if it was written by an outsider to the country. There are multiple times where you can almost feel the anger that's still being felt over what Stalin did to this country's ancestors. Second, Khlevniuk writes with an assumption that the reader is at least familiar with the cliff notes version of Stalin, WWII, and 20th-century Russian history. Wh ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Goebbels: A Biography
  • The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1879-1921
  • Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
  • Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime
  • Yalta: The Price of Peace
  • Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky
  • Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia
  • Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels
  • Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire
  • The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States
  • Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s
  • Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him
  • Kim Jong-Il: North Korea's Dear Leader
  • Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life
  • The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs
  • The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine
  • Wellington: The Path to Victory 1769-1814
  • Cannibal Island: Death in a Siberian Gulag
Oleg V. Khlevniuk is a leading research fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences and senior research fellow at the State Archive of the Russian Federation. His previous Yale books include The History of the Gulag, Master of the House: Stalin and His Inner Circle, and several c ...more
“At the end of his life, Stalin was at the pinnacle of his power. His authority was unassailable and not under threat from any source. But he did not feel that way. Like other dictators, he never stopped fighting for power and never quite trusted his subjects. The methods he used in his never-ending battle for power were universal and simple. They included the elimination of any potential threat from within his inner circle, unrelenting oversight of the secret police, the encouragement of competition and mutual control among the various components of government, and the mobilization of society against perceived enemies both internal and external.” 1 likes
“Here he became acquainted with an eighteen-year-old schoolgirl named Pelageia Onufrieva, the fiancée of one of his fellow exiles, Petr Chizhikov. The future dictator flirted openly with the girl and gave her a book with the inscription, “To clever, nasty Polya from the oddball Iosif.” When Pelageia left Vologda, Jughashvili sent her facetious cards, such as: “I claim a kiss from you conveyed via Petka [Chizhikov]. I kiss you back, and I don’t just kiss you, but passionately (simple kissing isn’t worth it). Iosif.”7 In his personal files, Stalin kept a photograph of Chizhikov and Onufrieva dating to his time in Vologda: a serious, pretty, round-faced girl in glasses and a serious young man with regular features and a moustache and beard. The jocular cards, presents, and photograph attest to the thirty-three-year-old Jughashvili’s interest in the young woman but do not prove that he was romantically involved with her. We” 1 likes
More quotes…