Stalin

Stalin

The Court of the Red Tsar

Book - 2004
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Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes--as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag--has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin's reign are well known, this remarkable biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation--human, psychological and physical--that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him. In a seamless meshing of exhaustive research, brilliant synthesis and narrative élan, Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the life and lives of Stalin's court from the time of his acclamation as "leader" in 1929, five years after Lenin's death, until his own death in 1953 at the age of seventy-three. Through the lens of personality--Stalin's as well as those of his most notorious henchmen, Molotov, Beria and Yezhov among them--the author sheds new light on the oligarchy that attempted to create a new world by exterminating the old. He gives us the details of their quotidian and monstrous lives: Stalin's favorites in music, movies, literature (Hemmingway,The Forsyte SagaandThe Last of the Mohicanswere at the top of his list), food and history (he took Ivan the Terrible as his role model and swore by Lenin's dictum, "A revolution without firing squads is meaningless"). We see him among his courtiers, his informal but deadly game of power played out at dinners and parties at Black Sea villas and in the apartments of the Kremlin. We see the debauchery, paranoia and cravenness that ruled the lives of Stalin's inner court, and we see how the dictator played them one against the other in order to hone the awful efficiency of his killing machine. With stunning attention to detail, Montefiore documents the crimes, small and large, of all the members of Stalin's court. And he traces the intricate and shifting web of their relationships as the relative warmth of Stalin's rule in the early 1930s gives way to the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the upheaval of World War II (there has never been as acute an account of Stalin's meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt) and the horrific postwar years when he terrorized his closest associates as unrelentingly as he did the rest of his country. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsargives an unprecedented understanding of Stalin's dictatorship, and, as well, a Stalin as human and complicated as he is brutal. It is a galvanizing portrait: razor-sharp, sensitive and unforgiving.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2004, c2003
ISBN: 9781400042302
1400042305
Characteristics: xxvii, 785 p. : ill

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morrisonist Apr 27, 2016

The Stalin Epigram

Osip Mandelstam, 1891 - 1938
.

Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

Illya1 Jun 24, 2013

The most extraordinary story ever told by the author who thoroughly researched the times of Stalin. The book covered all the worst abused by the regime and in-depth explained what happened in detail the suffering of all the people under Stalin. Anyone who is interested in Russian/Soviet history should read that book and be amazed by the tragedy of the period. Comment by Illya Osherov.

p
patrick1949
Oct 24, 2009

Once I had read his 'YOUNG STALIN" I had to read the rest of his life. This is a detailed plunge into his life from 1926 until his death, and is very revealing.
A good read- perhaps a bit overlong in places- but a very good read into the mind of a dictator and his monsters.
This is well read alongside "STALIN AND HIS HANGMEN" to complete a picture.

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