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William GrimesFor decades historians accepted the portrait of Stalin painted by his rivals. He was, in the words of one political adversary, Nikolai Sukhanov, "a gray blur," a mediocre party hack who managed, through stealth and intrigue, to wrest the levers of power from the brilliant revolutionaries surrounding him…In Young Stalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore's meticulously researched, authoritative biography of Stalin's early years, the blur comes into sharp focus. Building on the revisionist studies of Robert Service and Richard Overy, Mr. Montefiore offers a detailed picture of Stalin's childhood and youth, his shadowy career as a revolutionary in Georgia and his critical role during the October Revolution. No one, henceforth, need ever wonder how it was that Stalin found his way into Lenin's inner circle, or took his place in the ruling troika that assumed power after the storming of the Winter Palace.
—The New York Times