Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator

Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300219784
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 03/22/2016
Pages: 424
Sales rank: 259,712
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Oleg V. Khlevniuk is a leading research fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences and senior research fellow at the State Archive of the Russian Federation. His previous Yale books include The History of the Gulag, Master of the House: Stalin and His Inner Circle, and several collections of Stalin's correspondence.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

The Seats of Stalin's Power 1

1 Before the Revolution 11

The Bulwarks of Stalin's Power 33

2 In Lenin's Shadow 42

A World of Reading and Contemplation 92

3 His Revolution 100

Trepidation in the Inner Circle 142

4 Terror and Impending War 150

Patient Number 1 189

5 Stalin at War 198

Family 250

6 The Generalissimo 261

The Dictatorship Collapses 310

The Funeral: The Vozhd, The System, and the People 317

Notes 331

Acknowledgments 379

Index 381


Why do we need another biography of Stalin?

Rarely have so many new sources of information become available within a short period as with the opening of the Stalin-era Soviet archives. I saw it as my task to weave the most salient new information into a narrative that rests entirely on what we know for certain about Stalin and his time.
Was Stalin necessary?

Decades ago the British historian Alec Nove asked, "Was Stalin really necessary?" Everyone knows what a brutal murderer Stalin was, but many believe that "the trains ran on time." The evidence, however, points to catastrophic mismanagement. Nothing in Stalin's background qualified him to take dictatorial control of a vast country, reorganize its agriculture, or serve as its chief military strategist. To the end, he remained willfully blind to the fact that he had built an unworkable system.
You have been among the first to explore Stalin's personal archive. What discovery from this collection most surprised you? 

It is interesting that Stalin kept the coerced confessions of the Old Bolsheviks whom he condemned to death. He, of course, knew they were innocent, but for some reason he needed these confessions. Maybe he felt they would justify his actions to posterity?
Beside the lost lives, what, for you, is the greatest tragedy of the Stalinist legacy?

I am frightened that so many of our fellow Russians proclaim the Stalinist period to represent the pinnacle of the country's achievement and that we should use Stalinist methods to return Russia to glory. They refuse to see the horrible price paid. Stalin's admirers regard human life as expendable—the needs of the state come first—and are eager to hunt down twenty-first century "enemies." This totalitarian mindset is Stalin's most terrifying legacy.

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