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

Young Stalin

(Joseph Stalin #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,535 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
Based on ten years' astonishing new research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic, dangerous boy became a student priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary, and the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image: How Stalin became Stalin.
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published 2007 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
One day, when I was outside eating lunch and reading this book, someone asked me who "Stay-lin" (rhymes with Palin) is, and told me that he looks like Johnny Depp. What else can I say?
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is Stalin before he was “Stalin.” While Montefiore's previous book, The Court of the Red Tsar, covers Stalin’s years in power, here we get a look into his childhood home and abuse, his questionable parentage, his career as a poet (who knew?!), his seminary schooling, his early crimes, arrests, exiles, his multiple girlfriends, his meeting with Lenin, his early rivalry with Trotsky, and his seemingly constant impregnating of teenagers and fathering of children he never met. Both his marriage ...more
Adam Floridia
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even the preface starts off strong with a brilliantly vivid description of Stalin's first bank heist. That particular narrative reads more like an action novel than a biography.

Similarly, the author portrays Soso's (Stalin's) childhood home of Gori, Georgia as a hotbed of mischief, both major and minor. From all out town brawls to school field trips to witness an execution, the town reminds me of an almost cartoonish depiction of a criminal haven. Furthermore, Stalin's NUMEROUS escapes from capt
This is the best biography I've read in a long time. I didn't know much about Stalin and had only basic knowledge of Russian history before I started, but Montefiore's book leaves me hungry for more.

The book begins with an excellent "hook," describing a sensational bank robbery Stalin perpetrated in Tiflis, Georgia. It's also very well researched, with lots of endnotes and footnotes (but no so many footnotes as to distract from the text). Even better, it's written in such a way that the characte
A really entertaining read about the life of Stalin... before he actually became Stalin. Filled with a wealth of information about his upbringing, family, friends, relationships, gangster days and the beginnings of the original Politburo in Communist Russia. Would recommend to anyone interested in the personal history of one of the world's most hated dictators.
Matti Karjalainen
Kävin taannoin katsomassa elokuvateatterissa mainion mustan komedian "Death of Stalin", ja totesin sen katsottuani, että voisi olla tarpeen hieman verestää tietouttani aiheesta. Niinpä lainasin meidän putiikistamme englantilaisen Simon Sebag Montefioren "Nuoren Stalinin" (WSOY, 2008), joka käsittelee toveri Josif Vissarionovitš Džugašvilin vaiheita ajalta ennen kuin hänestä tuli Stalin.

Stalinin elämästä on kirjoitettu paljon, mutta usein lähteet edustavat joko henkilöpalvontaa tai ovat hänen vih
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Edward
Carl R.
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
After reading Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Court of the Red Tsar (Sabout Stalin’s post revolution reign I didn’t want to read more. I think Montefiore’s writing is pedestrian and that he somehow made the story of the man who is arguably history’s most brutal and bloody dictator and of his alliances with the western world’s greatest mid-century leaders less than transporting work. However, I have a neighbor who’s a glutton for this kind of thing, so I fell heir to a copy of Young Stalin, and here ...more
فهد الفهد
ستالين الشاب زعيماً وشاعراً ولصاً وكاهناً وزير نساء

في عام 2005 م نشر المؤرخ البريطاني سيمون سيباغ مونتيفيوري المتخصص في تاريخ الشرق الأوسط والتاريخ الروسي كتاباً يتناول حياة الطاغية الشهير ستالين بعنوان (ستالين: بلاط القيصر الأحمر)، معتبراً في كتابه هذا ستالين أحد أكثر الشخصيات التي صاغت شكل العالم في القرن العشرين، ولأن الكتاب تناول حياة ستالين منذ الثورة الروسية 1917 م وحتى وفاته 1953 م، وهي السنوات التي عرف من خلالها ستالين، ورسخ فيها صورته الدموية، قام المؤلف بتأليف كتابه الثاني ونشره بعد ث
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Russian history buffs
Oh, the "what ifs" of history - if only Stalin had obeyed his mother's wishes and become a priest (or his father's and become a cobbler). But Simon Montefiore's Young Stalin explores why he didn't.

Young Stalin fills in the period from Stalin's birth in 1878 to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, only touched on in Montefiore's earlier biography, The Court of the Red Tsar. The book attempts to explain from whence the brutal megalomaniacal dictator of both Soviet and Western myth emerged, and (
List of Illustrations
Stalin Family Tree
List of Characters

--Young Stalin

Stalin's Names, Nicknames, Bylines and Aliases
Select Bibliography

(The full and extremely extensive references for this book are available in the hardback edition and also on the author's website at: In order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size, the author and publishers have decided not to include the notes in the paperback. We hope
Петър Стойков
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Много изненади крие тази книга, като първата от тях е, че това на корицата е снимка на Сталин на младини.

Разбира се, тогава той се е казвал просто Йосеп Джугашвили, с прякор Сосо и дори не е говорил руски. Сталин е име, което сам си е измислил (означава Стоманения) по-късно, а до края на живота си не се научава да говори руски без твърдия акцент на родната му Грузия.

Симон Монтефиоре е извъшил колосални по обем проучвания, за да ни даде най-подробната двутомна биография на съветския диктатор, ко
Tamara Zargaryan
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Время от времени во мне просыпается историк. И тогда этот историк принимается рьяно копаться в одной конкретной теме. В настоящее время такой темой для меня стала Великая Отечественная война (во многом благодаря недавно прочитанной потрясающей книге Джонатана Литтелла «The Kindly Ones»). Я вдруг с удивлением обнаружила, что весь мой довольно крепкий школьный и университетский багаж знаний в этой области теперь уже катастрофически мал. Я, конечно, назову основные даты, смогу рассказать про постул ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Phil Kostov
Shelves: biography
During high school I recall having a group conversation with fellow students about what we would do if power was thrust upon us by events. It was 1968 or '69 and we were, however naif, serious.

Young Stalin covers his life until the revolution in 1917, a topic substantially veiled until the breakup of the Soviet Union. The little I knew about Stalin before reading this book was from two, unsympathetic, sides: either that of Trotsky and his followers or that of social democrats whose affections w
Jane Routley
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love biographies. When I was a kid there were a series of uplifitng books for children that I loved with titles like "Young Florence Nightingale." This however is not one of them. In fact is was hard for an old lefty like me to realize just what a vicious bunch of scumbags the Bolsheviks were and how in a lot of ways they were very like Al Quieda are now. They even planned to crash a bi-plane full of explosives into the Winter Palace at one stage.
They were proud to be terrorists and happy to k
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia-reads, non-fic
This seems a very well-researched book. I learned much about this guy both as a person and as a political. I preferred the parts which focused more on the person rather than the politics but clearly, they can't be separated so overall a really interesting read. A really good history lesson as I feel I have a much better understanding now of the politics and the lead-up to Stalin's reign. I plan on moving on to Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.
Patrick Peterson
February 2016. 31 July and 1 Aug. 2018 - edited for clarity.
Listened to this on Audio CD. Fascinating. Very well read by James Adams. Paints Stalin as much more intellectual than most describe him. One cause: Trotsky was a powerful writer, who totally misjudged and demeaned Stalin and has had much better press. Another reason, socialists who still love the idea of socialism, find it very hard to justify and explain how the Soviet Union could fall prey to this man Stalin, had to paint him as an e
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Everyone has heard of Stalin. The Russian dictator, with the big moustache who was responsible for the deaths of millions of his own people. The man who took over the Russia Soviet Union from Lenin and lead Russia through World War Two but at the casualty rate of 27 million Russian people; men, women and children.

Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore is a book about Stalin before he became Stalin. This book is based on ten years of research on his younger years, his brutal household (alcoholic
Zorka Zamfirova
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook, moj omiljeni format. Ubrzan čitač za x1.3 i milina. Montefiore lepo piše. Ovo je za one koji se interesuju za fenomen Staljin.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Most of this book is an endless repetition of Stalin's escapades as a gangster, bank robber, fundraiser for Lenin and womanizer. It does deal with his early youth in his home village of Gori, his poor and abusive family background and his years at the seminary (also abusive). The rest is one continual episode of gangsterism, and brutal behavior after another as he grows to be, well. Stalin. Names become a befuddlement after awhile and not really worth keeping track of. Most of them wind up dead ...more
A good, close-up look at Stalin from his birth up to age 39 (1917). Montefiore has done a superb job at providing details of his family life, childhood, early life in Georgia, his activities for the Bolsheviks, his imprisonments, time in Siberia, and his involvement in the beginnings of the 1917 Revolution.

In contrast, Stephen Kotkin's 'Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power' covers the same time period with a much wider focus - more on the historical situation and less on Stalin himself. Kotkin
John David
The life of the young Joseph Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis Jughashvili) is probably very much like you would think it was, given what we know of his adult life. He was born to the alcoholic and physically abusive shoemaker father Bessarion and an overly fond mother Ekaterina (“Keke”). The streets of his native town of Gori, located in modern-day Georgia, required young boys to hone their cruelty and brutality early on. Despite getting into dozens of fights, he was also exceedingly bright. From a ...more
Anna Baillie-Karas
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding biography of the man who became a monster. Simon Sebag Montefiore has a deep understanding of the time, country and context; & new sources that shed light on Stalin’s early years. It’s a compelling story told in a pacy, narrative style. Helped me understand how the type of person he was, hard childhood & violent town - combined w his passion for the cause - shaped Stalin. Fascinating, disturbing & nuanced. Highly recommended.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is better than I thought it would be and is incredibly well-researched; Montefiore really goes into the archives and there are some fascinating personal interviews which illuminate Stalin’s youth and early adulthood. What comes through is first the debunking of the idea that he was ‘just’ a bureaucrat, and also how totally unglamorous and in many ways unaccomplished his life was until 1917. The description of how haphazard the Bolsheviks were even as they took power is persuasive, and demon ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soviet-history
Montefiore has given us another fascinating and utterly engaging biography of Stalin, or rather a biographical narrative of his life through the October Revolution (1917).

Montefiore has mined the archives of Russia and former Soviet republics and he has also interviewed surviving acquaintances of Stalin's (One former friend still lives at 109 years!)to present a great deal of material for the first time. His integration of this material as well as his interpretation of it in larger political con
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I'm not an expert in Stalin or Russia, so I appreciated "journalistic" approach to the subject. My impression of Young Stalin, is a person who lived in an abusive household and would fund the Bolsheviks through gangster activities. He is charismatic, driven, writes poetry, and can be popular with the ladies. On the other hand, he can be aloof, heartless, and unemotional.

The book starts with what is known about his childhood and ends with the Bolshevik taking power. Most of the book consists of
Bruce Collett
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Great information about Stalin that informs us he was one of history's greatest thugs. Very efficient as an administrator, politcal operative, dictator...and truly evil. I appreciate that while giving Stalin a chance at human understanding, Montefiore let's the facts describe that he was such a "bad buy" that there isn't a possible sympathetic conclusion about Stalin's life. It reads to me like The Gulag Archipelago which assumes the reader has lots of Russian/Soviet Union historical novel so ma ...more
Chandrashekar Gangaraju
For a person who knew hardly anything about Stalin, it was a let down. There were too many footnotes and mentions about other authors' versions, many were quite irrelevant, I felt. Many footnotes asked the reader to read his other book. The author appeared to read too much, mostly negatively into Stalin's early years and couldn't be neutral. The read was too full of facts and figures.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Could not finish it. I am not a fan of Montefiore's writing style.
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
کتاب عالی با ترجمه عالی از اقای اشتری
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
  • Stalin
  • The General: Charles De Gaulle And The France He Saved
  • The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939 (Annals of Communism Series)
  • The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia
  • Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
  • Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis (Hitler, #2)
  • The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia
  • The Russian Revolution 1917-1932
  • Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
  • Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
  • Khrushchev Remembers
  • A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944
  • Gulag: A History
  • Catherine the Great
  • Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
  • Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945
Simon Sebag Montefiore is the author of the global bestsellers 'The Romanovs' and 'Jerusalem: the Biography,' 'Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar' and Young Stalin and the novels Sashenka and One Night in Winter and "Red Sky at Noon." His books are published in 48 languages and are worldwide bestsellers. He has won prizes in both non-fiction and fiction. He read history at Gonville and Caius Colleg ...more

Other books in the series

Joseph Stalin (2 books)
  • Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
“So much of the inexplicable about the Soviet experience—the hatred of the peasantry for example, the secrecy and paranoia, the murderous witch hunt of the Great Terror, the placing of the Party above family and life itself, the suspicion of the USSR’s own espionage that led to the success of Hitler’s 1941 surprise attack—was the result of the underground life, the konspiratsia of the Okhrana and the revolutionaries, and also the Caucasian values and style of Stalin. And not just of Stalin.” 5 likes
“It seems that Russia today—dominated by, and accustomed to, autocracy and empire, and lacking strong civic institutions especially after the shattering of its society by the Bolshevik Terror—is destined to be ruled by self-promoting cliques for some time yet.” 4 likes
More quotes…