Of all the despots of our time, Joseph Stalin lasted the longest and wielded the greatest power, and his secrets have been the most jealously guarded--even after his death.
In this book, the first to draw from recently released archives, Robert Conquest gives us Stalin as a child and student; as a revolutionary and communist theoretician; as a political animal skilled in amassing power and absolutely ruthless in maintaining it. He presents the landmarks of Stalin's rule: the clash with Lenin; collectivization; the great Terror; the Nazi-Soviet pact and the Nazi-Soviet war; the anti-Semitic campaign that preceded his death; and the legacy he left behind.
Drawing on a wealth of new material from the Soviet Union, Conquest presents a chilling portrait of a mass murderer who gave personal instructions on how his victims should be tortured. Stalin (1879-1953), a rebellious young seminarian who wrote poetry, would later have poets executed. Conquest ( The Great Terror ) portrays the Soviet dictator as an insufferably rude husband, a Georgian who hated his roots and Russified himself, a crude boor who yearned to be a backslapping man of the people. Although omitting intricate political details and focusing instead on the person himself, this masterful biography provides fresh insight into a progressively paranoid leader who ruled by terror and falsification, deported millions to slave labor camps, engineered the famine of 1932 that killed some five million Ukrainians, and launched an anti-Semitic campaign of murders and arrests. Photos. (Nov.)