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Stalin : The Court of the Red Tsar

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This widely acclaimed biography of Stalin and his entourage during the terrifying decades of his supreme power transforms our understanding of Stalin as Soviet dictator, Marxist leader, and Russian tsar. Based on groundbreaking research, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals the fear and betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous cruelty of this secret world. Written with bracing narrative verve, this feat of scholarly research has become a classic of modern history writing. Showing how Stalin's triumphs and crimes were the product of his fanatical Marxism and his gifted but flawed character, this is an intimate portrait of a man as complicated and human as he was brutal and chilling.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 785 pages
  • 132.08 x 200.66 x 43.18mm | 635.03g
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 2 MAPS/32 PP. B&W PHOTOS
  • 1400076781
  • 9781400076789
  • 269,633

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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 elan, 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 Saga and "The Last of the Mohicans were 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 andcravenness 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 Tsar gives 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. "From the Hardcover edition.show more

Review quote

Terrific. . . . Scholarship as a kind of savage gossip. . . . Deeply researched, wonderfully readable. "Time" The first intimate portrait of a man who had more lives on his conscience than Hitler. . . . Disturbing and perplexing. Richard Pipes, "The New York Times Book Review" Superb. . . . No Western writer has got as close. . . . A dark and excellent book. "The New York Review of Books" A harrowing portrait of life in the dictator s inner circle. . . . [Stalin] emerges from this book as a contradictory, creepily flesh-and-blood human being. "The New York Times" Unprecedented in its intimacy and horrifying in its implications, not merely because it shows that the engineers of one of history s greatest holocausts were depraved . . . but also because they emerge in these pages as surprisingly normal. "The Washington Post Book World""show more

About Simon Sebag Montefiore

SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIOREis a historian of Russia and the Middle East. Catherine the Great and Potemkin was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize.Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsarwon the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards.Young Stalinwon the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Award, and le Grande Prix de la biographie politique.Jerusalem: The Biographywas a worldwide best seller. Montefiore s books are published in more than forty languages. He is the author of the novelsSashenkaandOne Night in Winter, which won the Paddy Power Political Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2014. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Dr. Montefiore graduated from Cambridge University, where he received his PhD. He lives in London. www.simonsebagmontefiore.com "show more
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