Gr 8 Up-This informative biography emphasizes Stalin's role in the creation and evolution of the Soviet Union. It opens with the Georgian's arrival in Vienna in 1913, where he was sent by Lenin to do research on the many national groups living in Russia. There he met other important underground figures, who later became his rivals. The first three chapters then trace Stalin's life and his role as a revolutionary through 1917. Civil war and Stalin's rise to power and his determination to industrialize the country and force the peasants into collectivized farms despite the great human suffering that these policies cost are discussed. Cunningham details the terror unleashed by Stalin in the 1930s. Subsequent chapters examine World War II and its aftermath. Throughout the book, the author speculates on aspects of Stalin's personal life that probably fed into his ruthlessness and provides an excellent broader historical context where needed. Black-and-white and full-color photos, maps, and reproductions of cartoons, posters, and paintings are an added bonus, and the layout is attractive. A fine acquisition.-Elizabeth Talbot, University of Illinois, Champaign Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.