Robert Conquest is the foremost authority on the Stalinist period of Soviet history. The culmination of a lifetime's work, this book is a masterly portrait of a man who 'perhaps more than any other determined the course of the twentieth century'. Conquest focuses on Stalin's terrifying character, perhaps the closest to a monster that humankind has ever produced. Stalin emerges as a man 'unnatural' and 'unreal', who gave his personal authority to the slaughter of millions, but whose vanity demanded their adulation. Most surprisingly, Conquest demonstrates that Stalin's astounding power was not the reward of ability; it was the creation of a man whose mind was 'of profound mediocrity, melded with superhuman willpower'.'There is no one better qualified to write Stalin's life than Robert Conquest, who in his many books about the Stalinist era has told the story with such intimacy, expertise and passion...Conquest tells the tale with an informed hatred for his subject, and a fine sense of irony which makes this book indispensable reading' A.N. Wilson, Evening Standard
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Robert Conquest was educated at Winchester and Magdalen College, Oxford. He served in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in World War II, and thereafter in the Foreign Service in Sofia and New York, for which he was awarded the OBE. He has since held various academic posts. He is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.From Kirkus Reviews:
Blending impeccable scholarship and deeply revealing anecdotes, noted Soviet scholar Conquest (Stalin and the Kirov Murder, 1989, etc.) illuminates Stalin's role in history as well as his private character. ``Overall he gives the impression of a large and crude claylike figure, a golem, into which a demonic spark has been instilled,'' writes Conquest of ``a man who perhaps more than any other determined the course of the twentieth century.'' Conquest sifts through post-glasnost material to pursue the truth about the author of the Big Lie, who ``ruled not only by terror but also by falsification'' (the emblem of which was, Conquest notes, torture to extract false confessions). In revisiting the stages of Stalin's upbringing, rise to power, and despotism, Conquest excels at finding the telling detail to reveal the man: Stalin's claim to party leaders that Lenin had asked Stalin to procure poison for him; Stalin's telephone call to Pasternak inviting him to plea for the poet Mandelstam's life; his praise of Hitler for murdering much of the Sturmabteilung--the Nazi storm troopers--one night. At the height of the 1932 famine in which millions were dying (and which the Soviet government made a state secret and simply denied worldwide), Stalin's second wife, Nadezhda, told him of the famine, which resulted in a fight and may have led a few days later to a public scene of brutality--after which Nadezhda shot herself. In the larger historical events (collectivization, the purges, the Great Patriotic War, the show trials), Conquest shows a masterful grasp, quickly and lucidly drawing fresh assessments without getting mired in the nonessential. Said to be the first post-glasnost Stalin bio by a Westerner, this is a must for anyone interested in the dictator, and helps to illumine the recent, denser study by Soviet military man Dmitri Volkogonov (Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, p. 921). (Eight pages of photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Weidenfeld & Nicolson History, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1842124390