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Stalin

New Biography of a Dictator
Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 18 hrs
5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Josef Stalin exercised supreme power in the Soviet Union from 1929 until his death in 1953. During that quarter century, by Oleg Khlevniuk's estimate, he caused the imprisonment and execution of no fewer than a million Soviet citizens per year. Millions more were victims of famine directly resulting from Stalin's policies. What drove him toward such ruthlessness?

This essential biography, by the author most deeply familiar with the vast archives of the Soviet era, offers an unprecedented, fine-grained portrait of Stalin, the man and dictator. Without mythologizing Stalin as either benevolent or an evil genius, Khlevniuk resolves numerous controversies about specific events in the dictator's life while assembling many hundreds of previously unknown letters, memos, reports, and diaries into a comprehensive, compelling narrative of a life that altered the course of world history.

In brief, revealing prologues to each chapter, Khlevniuk takes his reader into Stalin's favorite dacha, where the innermost circle of Soviet leadership gathered as their vozhd lay dying. Chronological chapters then illuminate major themes: Stalin's childhood, his involvement in the Revolution and the early Bolshevik government under Lenin, his assumption of undivided power and mandate for industrialization and collectivization, the Terror, World War II, and the postwar period. At the book's conclusion, the author presents a cogent warning against nostalgia for the Stalinist era.

Cover image: "Stalin is our banner!" poster, 1948. Collection of the Russian State Library, Moscow. © Heritage Image Partnership Ltd/Alamy, Reportage/Archival image.

©2015 Oleg Khlevniuk; Yale University (Translation) (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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New material..

The ongoing opening of Soviet archives has given this author a splendid opportunity to recast events we thought we knew. It is not a primer. Familiarity with Stalin literature, such as Conquest’s, will give a greater appreciation of what is new in this work. It is well written and well narrated and very worthwhile. But, again, it is not a primer.

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  • Neil
  • 2020-01-12

Loved it, but wouldn't want to live it

I loved the book, I initially didn't like the narration, but for real information he was great. Don't need too much drama. Stalin was one of the worst humans in history second only to Mao. Hitler was a freshman compared to these thugs. The book followed Stalin throughout his political life and hits you with historical facts throughout. I had to closely listen. The only drawback I found was it bounced forward and back with history. I am sure there are longer books on Stalin, but plenty of information here to get who this cold serial dictator killer was.

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  • Hokkaido
  • 2019-07-08

Nuanced and clever

Great book in the genre of biographies of the worst dictators of the 20th century. Interesting thoughts on new Russian biographies of Stalin, trying different ways to rehabilitate him. Also very sympathetic that the author lets the reader know quite a bit about his historical method and about his ideas on writing biographies. Not only Stalin comes to life - he grew his own melons and enjoyed gardening - but also large parts of the political system and quite a bit of social history, fascinating and, of course, often very bleak and grim.

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  • brian
  • 2018-03-22

A well researched picture

An excellent look at Stalin, thanks to new information from archives debunking many myths and theories. Perhaps it's not the ultimate biography, but, it comes very close.

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  • Burt R. Weissman
  • 2020-05-28

Review of “Stalin”, by Oleg Khlevniuk

Well written story complemented by lively and riveting narration. Well-organized chapter division. One of the better biographies on this, the cruelest tyrant in Russias’s long and tortured history.

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  • noisick
  • 2020-04-05

kudos to the Russian and Chinese pronunciation!

As a native Chinese who also speak Russian, I was pleasantly surprised by how the performer nailed the a few Chinese names’ pronunciation. The Russian pronunciation was mostly on point as well. I know this is trivia but I am impressed, given how foreign names are usually slaughtered on mass media nowadays.

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  • Skeptical DoDo
  • 2020-03-14

Stalin and Trump

Many are comparing trump to hitler, but after hearing this book I would say he is more like Stalin. It also gives great insight to the Russian people and the hold that Putin has on them.

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  • Robert
  • 2020-03-06

Solid Bio of Stalin

This is a solid bio of Stalin. It covers all the major events in his life and provides the most up to date info about him (ie, after Soviet archives where opened up after 1991).

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  • Ryan A
  • 2019-12-16

Pretty good overview of the dictator

I think the book does a pretty good job of covering Stalin and his mindset at various points throughout history. Some parts were kind of glossed over or didn't really cover the full events but overall I enjoyed it.

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  • Gary O.
  • 2019-11-17

Great book.

Great and unbiased bio of Stalin. Beware of wanting socialism and the people who push it. Inevitably you will end up with someone like Stalin.

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  • Tobias Hörnfeldt Röhr
  • 2019-10-18

Everyone should reed this book

It is wonderful book in all its horror, I had to stop listening to it for some days due to it was so sad I could not stop my self from crying. But it was worth it. I learned a lot. wish everyone could read/listen to it,