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Stalin

New Biography of a Dictator
Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 18 hrs
5 out of 5 stars (3 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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  • 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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • William P. Warford
  • 2019-03-10

Insightful look at a dictator

I learned a lot about Stalin's background and behind the scenes decision-making that I didn't know before. At first, it was a little disconcerting how the author switched back and forth between Stalin's early life and his final hours. But once I got used to that, it made sense and added to the enjoyment of the book.

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  • Richard S Setterstrom
  • 2018-11-11

Very informative

This provided me with a lot of information about Stalin that I have never heard before. I highly recommend it to anyone else looking to learn more about Stalin.

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  • Alex Abraham
  • 2018-10-21

Excellent audio

If you want to know the story behind Stalin then this is for you. Informative.

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 2018-09-30

Great, balanced look at the life of a man traditionally criticized as cruel and ruthless

Russia has always been a country of hardship, violence, and survival of the strongest. Here, we get a proper treatment of Stalin as a man within the context of his times. We get an understanding of how his early experiences during and after the revolution — backstabbing, duplicity, and ambition of those all around him — shaped his totalitarian and ruthless ruling style that employed fully by the time he ascended to full power over the USSR. His cruelty and will no doubt led to the deaths of countless lives, within his party and across the USSR. On the other hand, his aggressive measures to bring Russia from a 19th-century state to a competitive industrial power that rivaled both Germany and America, within a handful of years, enabled the Soviets to contend with Germany alone, on the Western front, ultimately beating the Germans back into full retreat. Accounts of other players are skillfully woven into the biography, always with an eye on accenting small details that reveal the hidden humanity of Stalin. Riveting read, with great audio narration, you will be transfixed on absorbing this 18h-long audiobook once you get started.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Davis
  • 2018-04-01

Ole' Wonderful Work

Oleg Khlevniuk's work allowed me to feel his story. I learned SO much. I now want to read more about Russian history.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Rex
  • 2018-12-29

Scary Truth About Socialism

The scary truth about the Social Democrat Party of Russia and how they changed their name to the Communist Party as soon as they took power. This begins with Vladmir Lenin who explained that "the goal of Socialism is Communism" and "the cornerstone of Communism is socialized healthcare." Stalin grew up studying in a Seminary where he developed Marxist ideology, much like the Pope has today, he went on to idolize Vladmir Lenin and eventually the two worked together. In the end about 7M people died in their Civil War (people called the US Civil War bloody--only 618,000 died in our Civil War), another 16M died from starvation, and to suppress their political opponents they fabricated evidence such as dossiers and conducted endless investigations with special counselors and their version of the FBI and our Secret FISA Courts being the Secret Police or KGB. They envisioned a world of Global Socialism without borders wherein the Government controlled all food, transportation, resources, and housing--just like they have outlined in UN Agenda 21. There was always something to fear to keep giving the Government control and for the Russians, it was war, war was always right around the corner--In UN Agenda 21 they outlined Climate Change as something to fear and that is the rational for giving the Government more control over our lives, food, transportation, housing...

I hope you read or listen to this book and help others understand the dangers of Socialism.

If I had to complain about the book, it would be the edits. The edits were very noticeable as in a change in the audio gain changed dramatically, but there were few edits.

6 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • fernando antonio hadba
  • 2018-08-31

Great book

The narrative is not linear and it was easier to understand Stalin and his impact on 20 th century.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott Free
  • 2018-12-12

Too much left out

I finished this book and I was interested to the end but having been student of Soviet history I was aware of many details that this biography didn't emphasize Solzhenitsyn, the Cambridge Apostles and the spies or feeding secrets to the Soviet Union and also Western assistance to the Soviet Union was all very much glossed over and Stalin was too much in the center of the story even of course as a dictator he certainly was and also his turn against the Jews in the Soviet Union coincided with the Cambridge Apostles cutting off secrets to the Soviets and instead directing them to Israel in particular Victor Rothschild. Still, this is the sort of history that we need to study.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful