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Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

Hardback

By (author) Simon Sebag Montefiore

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  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson History
  • Format: Hardback | 693 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 236mm x 52mm | 1,270g
  • Publication date: 10 July 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1842127268
  • ISBN 13: 9781842127261
  • Illustrations note: 65, 2 maps
  • Sales rank: 356,992

Product description

There have been many biographies of Stalin, but the court that surrounded him is untravelled ground. Simon Sebag-Montefiore, acclaimed biographer of Catherine the Great?s lover, prime minister and general, Potemkin, has unearthed the vast underpinning that sustained Stalin. Not only ministers such as Molotov or secret service chiefs such as Beria, but men and women whose loyalty he trusted only until the next purge. Here is the Stalin story from the inside, full of revelations. How the death of Stalin's wife was hushed up - was it suicide? How the Soviet leaders and their families lived and partied inside the Kremlin walls. What happened on the first day of war with Germany in 1941. The fullest account of the meeting between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill that settled the fate of the axis powers. And how the Great Terror in which 10 million died actually happened. Robert Service (St Antony's, Oxford), former head of Russian history at the School of Slavonic Studies, U. of London: 'Simon Sebag Montefiore has pulled it off. His book succeeds in giving us an intimate picture of daily life in the Kremlin under Stalin. The arrests and killings are not ignored; indeed Montefiore supplies extra chapters and verses on the process by which the Soviet dictator moved against his enemies real and potential. An abundance of the sources are wholly new. The result is a gripping account. Stalin was a vengeful conspirator and a murderous leader. But he was also 'normal' in many ways. He was convivial, solicitous and even flirtatious. When he wanted, he could be quite a charmer. This duality has long been under-appreciated, but it helps to explain why Stalin was admired as well as feared by his associates - and indeed why his power endured. This is a fundamental theme and it is one of Montefiore's that he handles it with excitement and cogency.'

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Author information

Simon Sebag Montefiore read history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he received his Doctorate of Philosophy. His books are published in over forty languages. CATHERINE THE GREAT AND POTEMKIN was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. STALIN: THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR won the History Book of the Year Prize, British Book Awards. YOUNG STALIN won the Costa Biography Award (UK), the LA Times Book Prize for Biography (USA), Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). JERUSALEM: THE BIOGRAPHY won the Jewish Book of the Year Prize (USA). He is also the author of two acclaimed novels, SASHENKA and ONE NIGHT IN WINTER. Dr Montefiore's next major history book will be THE ROMANOVS: RISE AND FALL, 1613-1917. He has presented BBC television series on the Holy Cities of Jerusalem, Rome and Istanbul. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Visiting Professor at Buckingham University, he lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children. Visit his website for more information www.simonsebagmontefiore.com, join on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Sebag-Montefiore and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/simonmontefiore.

Review quote

The publicity for this has been fantastic and it is still selling like a train, currently no. 6 on THE SUNDAY TIMES & no. 1 on EVENING STANDARD bestseller lists. The following pieces have run: an interview with Simon and his wife Santa in VOGUE (July issue); an article on Stalin's women in the SUNDAY TIMES News Review (29 June); a piece on Stalin's houses in the DAILY TELEGRAPH(8 July); a piece on his research in THE FINANCIAL TIMES (5 July); a book digest in THE DAILY MAIL (8 July) and an article in BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE (August issue). The TV programme, STALIN: THE TERROR, which Simon was the historical consultant on was shown on BBC 2 25 July. The reviews have been amazing: 'This is an extraordinary book..... he has succeeded in bringing alive a group of characters who for too long have seemed too dull to merit much historical investigation, and provided a glimpse of what life was really like behind theKremlin walls.... for anyone fascinated by the nature of evil - and by the effects of absolute power on human relationships - this book will provide new insights on every page.'Anne Applebaum, THE EVENING STANDARD 'Montefiore's new material is important, because it allows for a far more rounded portrait ofStalin....... Montefiore provides rich detail of daily life and family relationships in a world of human values turned inside out.'Antony Beevor, THE SUNDAY TIMES 'his masterful and terrifying account of Stalin.... seldom has the picture been put in finer focus than by Sebag Montefiore. It is partly through his diligent interviews with the children of survivors and his admirable combination of history and gossip that one sees the awful banality, the brutal crudity of the men who carelessly sent so many millions to their senseless deaths'Alistair Horne, THE TIMES 'Grimly brilliant'Andrew Marr, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'This is a thoughtful book of first-class scholarship as well as transfixing narrative of a vast nation walking head-first into a meat-grinder........ anyone reading this book will feel profound gratitude to Montefiore for a fascinating investigative analysis of the pathology behind the greatest and most senseless sustained blood-letting in world history.'Andrew Roberts, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'this grim masterpiece'Antonia Fraser, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 'Its extraordinary revelation of the evil - the complete amorality - at the heart of the dictator's court will change the way historians approach the great historical questoins about the Stalinist regime.Orlando Figes, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Montefiore's superb book'Tim Abrahams, THE SUNDAY HERALD 'spectacular..... an impressive and compelling work'Philip Mansel, THE SPECTATOR 'Magisterial.... Sebag Montefiore's book is well-written; he evidently has a superb grasp of Russia'Lesley Chamberlain, THE INDEPENDENT 'Thanks to Simon Sebag Montefiore, there is no longer the slightest justification for thinking of Joseph Stalin as anything other than a moster'Roy Hattersley, THE OBSERVER 'Gripping and timely.... This is one of the few recent books on Stalinism that will be read in years to come.'Robert Service, THE GUARDIAN 'A riveting portrait of the man and his ruling circle.'Marc Lambert, THE SCOTSMAN 'An astonishingly good and important book.'Simon Heffer, COUNTRY LIFE 'this magnificent portrait of the dictator'Richard Overy, LIT REVIEW Simon was on THE TODAY PROGRAMME (BBC Radio 4) on 8 July, THE THE ARTS SHOW (BBC Radio Scotland) on 11 July, SUNDAY PROGRAMME (GMTV) on 13 July, THE MORNING SHOW (BBC Radio 5 Live) on 18 July, together with BBC RADIO BRISTOL and BBC RADIO LEICESTER. On Saturday 19 July he was on LOOSE ENDS (BBC Radio 4) on 23 July BBC BREAKFAST NEWS (BBC 1),27 July BREAKFAST WITH FROST (BBC 1) and their were lots of previews for theBBC programme. We had a great launch party on 8 July with numerous diary stories. Simon has done a number of excellent events and sti

Editorial reviews

A real treat for anyone interested in the history of the 20th century, this scholarly biography is both accessible and meticulously researched. Montefiore sets out to chronicle the life of the 'Red Tsar', his family, friends, and colleagues, and the result is a fascinating account liberally illustrated with black-and-white photos. In addition to the text over 100 pages are devoted to source notes and a comprehensive index. Brief and helpful footnotes give extra, often illuminating, information and the book is divided chronologically into ten parts, each with several brief chapters. The Stalin family and their friends come to life through thumbnail sketches, first-hand reports and letters. Fortunately for researchers Stalin did not use the telephone when he was on holiday and thus written information has been preserved. Extraordinarily, while organizing massacres and transportation on the political front the dictator was capable of a lively and loving home life. Stalin's second marriage was stormy, but his emotional response to his wife's apparent suicide shows how affected he could be by his personal life. His relationship with daughter Svetlana reflects the behaviour of a doting father. When she showed signs of early maturity he was overprotective, perhaps only too aware of the promiscuous behaviour of some of his Party colleagues. The Party members lived well, although not luxuriously by modern standards. Stalin enjoyed the power of giving large gifts such as cars to the faithful. Montefiore makes clear the ironies of the Revolution. The monarchy had been replaced by an elite who sprang from the people. However, the people benefited little, especially the peasants who were expected to starve to provide the means to develop an industrial society. Stalin and his colleagues systematically destroyed small farms, by killing, deporting and collectivising. All this was totally impersonal and led later to the elimination by quota of suspected traitors. Following the death of Kirov, for so long Stalin's friend, suspicion and denunciation became rife. Many who had been closest to the leader were brought to trial and execution in a wave of Party paranoia which continued till Stalin's death in 1953. The Party controlled press, radio and certain influential writers, and critics of the system or of individual Party members were swiftly dealt with. On the personal level Stalin showed generosity and often compassion. In his postscript Montefiore makes the point that many of the people he interviewed in 2002 remembered Stalin with admiration and affection. Whatever history finally has to say about Stalin and those who surrounded him, it cannot be denied that he inspired and captured the imaginations of many. This is not always a comfortable read but it is enthralling and compelling. (Kirkus UK)

Back cover copy

'Simon Sebag Montefiore has pulled it off. His book succeeds in giving us an intimate picture of daily life in the Kremlin under Stalin. The arrests and killings are not ignored; indeed Montefiore supplies extra chapters and verses on the process by which the Soviet dictator moved against his enemies real and potential. An abundance of the sources are wholly new. The book rests on an extraordinary feat of digging up letters and memoirs from the archives of members of Stalin's entourage and their families. Montefiore has also travelled around Russia to trace many surviving witnesses to the scenes he describes. The result is a gripping account. Stalin was a vengeful conspirator and a murderous leader. But he was also "normal" in many ways. He was convivial, solicitous and even flirtatious. When he wanted, he could be quite a charmer. This duality has long been under-appreciated, but it helps to explain why Stalin was admired as well as feared by his associates - and indeed why his power endured to the end of his life. This is a fundamental theme and it is one of Montefiore's merits that he handles it with excitement and cogency.' Robert Service, PRINCE OF PRINCES: THE LIFE OF POTEMKIN 'Fascinating¿this highly ambitious biography has succeeded triumphantly.' Antony Beevor, Sunday Times 'If you want a good racy historical read, Prince of Princes certainly provides it! Book of the Year.' Antonia Fraser, Sunday Telegraph 'The best new book I've read this year and indeed for several years. Impeccably researched, beautifully written, it takes us at an unslackening pace through the colourful life of one of the most legendary Russians - war hero, politician, visionary and lover.

Flap copy

'Simon Sebag Montefiore has pulled it off. His book succeeds in giving us an intimate picture of daily life in the Kremlin under Stalin. A gripping account.' Robert Service Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains one of the creators of our world. The scale of his crimes has made him, along with Hitler, the very personification of evil. Yet while we know much about Hitler, Stalin and his regime remain mysterious. Now, in this enthralling history of Stalin's imperial court, the fear and betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous brutality are brought blazingly to life. Who was the boy from Georgia who rose to rule the Empire of the Tsars? Who were his Himmler, Goring, Goebbels? How did these grandees rule? How did the 'top ten' families live? Exploring every aspect of this supreme politician, from his doomed marriage and mistresses, and his obsession with film, music and literature, to his identification with the Tsars, Simon Sebag Montefiore unveils a less enigmatic, more intimate Stalin, no less brutal but more human, and always astonishing. Stalin organised the deadly but informal game of power amongst his courtiers at dinners, dances, and singsongs at Black Sea villas and Kremlin apartments: a secret, but strangely cosy world with a dynamic, colourful cast of killers, fanatics, degenerates and adventurers. From the murderous bisexual dwarf Yezhov to the depraved but gifted Beria, each had their role: during the Second World War, Stalin played the statesman with Churchill and Roosevelt aided by Molotov while, with Marshal Zhukov, he became the triumphant warlord. They lived on ice, killing others to stay alive, sleeping with pistols under their pillows; their wives murdered on Stalin's whim, their children living by a code of lies. Yet they kept their quasi-religious faith in the Bolshevism that justified so much death. Based on a wealth of new materials from Stalin's archives, freshly opened in 2000, interviews with witnesses and massive research from Moscow to the Black Sea, this is a sensitive but damning portrait of the Genghis Khan of our epoch. £25.00 in UK only Illustrated