Robert Service Stalin: A Biography

ISBN 13: 9780674022584

Stalin: A Biography

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9780674022584: Stalin: A Biography
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Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.

Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.

Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge.

Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date.

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About the Author:

Robert Service is a Fellow of the British Academy and Professor of Russian History at Oxford University.

Review:

Here is a life-and-times biography in the grand style: deeply researched, well written, brimming with interpretations. Oxford historian Service, author of an acclaimed biography of Lenin, provides the most complete portrait available of the Soviet ruler, from his early, troubled years in a small town in Georgia to the pinnacle of power in the Kremlin. Most previous biographers have depicted Stalin as a plodding figure whose only distinguishing characteristic was brutality. But Service describes a man who was intelligent and hardworking, who learned from experience and who played an important role in the Russian revolutionary movement...By providing such a rich and complex portrait of the dictator and the Soviet system, Service humanizes Stalin without ever diminishing the extent of the atrocities he unleashed upon the Soviet population. (Publishers Weekly 2005-02-21)

For an understanding of Stalin the man, the leader, the Georgian, the Russian nationalist, the revolutionary, the party politician, the mass murderer and the international statesman, and his place in modern Russian history--Robert Service's book is unsurpassed. (Harold Shukman, author of Stalin's Generals)

[A] profound and readable assessment of the Soviet dictator.... Service paints a picture of a ruthless man absorbed in the pursuit of politics, widely read, perceptive, cunning and, despite a self-effacing and isolated persona, the stuff of leadership. (Richard Overy, The Mail on Sunday)

Service revises every dimension of this multidimensional titan. His book emphasizes the importance of Marxist ideology, economics and Bolshevik culture. But it also rightly presents a human Stalin ... Gritty and unshowy, but enlightened by Service's compelling characterization, magisterial analysis and dry wit, this outstanding biography of lightly worn authority, wide research and superb intuition will be read for decades. (Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar)

Robert Service's brilliant biography of Stalin is a major work: the fruit of long research, profound insight and understanding of his subject. It offers a truly rounded and thoroughly readable portrait of this monstrous figure. (Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph)

This is effectively the first full biography since perestroika to encompass the economic, political, diplomatic, military, administrative and, above all, ideological dimensions, as well as the personal aspects of Stalin's colossal life. Gritty and unshowy, but enlightened by Service's compelling characterisation, magisterial analysis and dry wit, this outstanding biography of lightly worn authority, wide research and superb intuition will be read for decades. (Simon Sebag Montefiore Sunday Times 2004-10-10)

A profound and readable reassessment of the Soviet dictator...Service paints a picture of a ruthless man absorbed in the pursuit of politics, widely read, perceptive, cunning and, despite a self-effacing and isolated persona, the stuff of leadership...Stalin was no fool; he could scarcely have become dictator of a vast nation if he had been. Yet his contemporaries, and many historians since, have underestimated him. Service makes sense of Stalin's achievements by making us take him seriously...Stalin's power at its peak was immense and daunting. Service reminds us that a quarter of Russians recently polled put the Stalin years top of the list of periods in Russian history they most admired...This shrewd biography helps us understand clearly and dispassionately why not everyone remembers Stalin as a murderous ogre. (Richard Overy The Mail on Sunday 2004-10-31)

Service triumphs in portraying Stalin's personality in the context of his times...This book is a tour de force. Not only does Service trace Stalin's road to dictatorship, he shows us what he did with absolute power...No one has shown in more convincing detail than Service Stalin's evolution to the absolute power that corrupts absolutely. It is, above all, a balanced account. He has the courage to confess that the monster, in his shabby clothes and wornout boots, dying alone in his dacha, soaked in his own urine, remains for him an enigma, not least because of the tyrant's consistent massaging of his own image. (Raymond Carr The Spectator 2004-12-04)

In his new biography of the Soviet dictator, Robert Service has given the most convincing description yet of how Stalin's insecure Georgian childhood fashioned his psychology. At key points in the book, we are reminded of Stalin's duality--on the one hand he was a proud Caucasian toughie who organized bank robberies and could drink spirits all night. On the other, he was a man who aspired to understand and interpret (crassly) high art and politics...This is the first serious political biography of Stalin since the opening of the archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 1990s and Service has made good use of them. (Misha Glenny Irish Times 2004-11-27)

In Service's eyes, Stalin remains ruthless, cunning and murderous. But a richer and more complex individual emerges--and a more human one. Stalin is shown as lover, husband and father. A man who wrote poetry and loved singing. A serious communist political thinker and the best-read Russian leader since Catherine the Great...[Service] has written a masterly book, with great erudition, style and wit. Although there are still some Soviet-era archives that remain closed, this biography will surely stand the test of time. (Stefan Wagstyl Financial Times 2004-10-23)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780674016972: Stalin: A Biography

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ISBN 10:  0674016971 ISBN 13:  9780674016972
Publisher: Belknap Press, 2005
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9780333726273: Stalin: A Biography

Macmillan, 2004
Hardcover

9780330518376: Stalin: A Biography

Pan Ma..., 2011
Softcover

9780330419130: Stalin: A Biography

Picador, 2005
Softcover

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge. Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date. Seller Inventory # AAS9780674022584

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge. Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date. Seller Inventory # AAS9780674022584

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge. Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date. Seller Inventory # BTE9780674022584

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