From the author of The Last Tsar, the first full-scale life of Stalin to have what no previous biography has fully obtained: the facts. Granted privileged access to Russia's secret archives, Edvard Radzinsky paints a picture of the Soviet strongman as more calculating, ruthless, and blood-crazed than has ever been described or imagined. Stalin was a man for whom power was all, terror a useful weapon, and deceit a constant companion.
As Radzinsky narrates the high drama of Stalin's epic quest for domination-first within the Communist Party, then over the Soviet Union and the world-he uncovers the startling truth about this most enigmatic of historical figures. Only now, in the post-Soviet era, can what was suppressed be told: Stalin's long-denied involvement with terrorism as a young revolutionary; the crucial importance of his misunderstood, behind-the-scenes role during the October Revolution; his often hostile relationship with Lenin; the details of his organization of terror, culminating in the infamous show trials of the 1930s; his secret dealings with Hitler, and how they backfired; and the horrifying plans he was making before his death to send the Soviet Union's Jews to concentration camps-tantamount to a potential second Holocaust. Radzinsky also takes an intimate look at Stalin's private life, marked by his turbulent relationship with his wife Nadezhda, and recreates the circumstances that led to her suicide.
As he did in The Last Tsar, Radzinsky thrillingly brings the past to life. The Kremlin intrigues, the ceaseless round of double-dealing and back-stabbing, the private worlds of the Soviet Empire's ruling class-all become, in Radzinsky's hands, as gripping and powerful as the great Russian sagas. And the riddle of that most cold-blooded of leaders, a man for whom nothing was sacred in his pursuit of absolute might--and perhaps the greatest mass murderer in Western history--is solved.
Russian historian and playwright Radzinsky, whose bestselling The Last Tsar chronicled the assassination of the Romanov royal family, has produced a vivid, astonishingly intimate biography of Joseph Stalin. By drawing heavily on previously unavailable primary-source documents in recently opened party, state and KGB archives, he portrays the Soviet dictator as even more sadistic and methodically demoniacal than Western historians had supposed. Pointing to the young revolutionary's repeated escapes and trips abroad, Radzinsky builds an intriguing circumstantial case that Stalin was a double agent working for both the Bolshevik cause and the czarist secret police. He documents how Lenin recruited Stalin into terrorist violence and used him to tame and crush dissidence within the party ranks. Through interviews with Stalin's granddaughter and with the niece of Nadezhda Alliluyeva, the dictator's wife, Radzinsky pieces together the violent quarrel between Stalin and his wife that led to her suicide weeks before she was to have major surgery. Using oral testimonies, the author deduces that Stalin's murderous anti-Semitic campaign of 1953--whose goal was the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Siberia and Kazakhstan--was a prelude to his plan to launch a third world war. Radzinsky also tracked down one of Stalin's bodyguards, Peter Lozgachev, whose testimony that Stalin's guards deliberately denied him medical attention and left him to die adds weight to the author's hypothesis that Stalin was eliminated by close aide Lavrenti Beria (who reportedly boasted, "I took him out") as part of a conspiracy to avert nuclear Armageddon. Stalin died in 1953, aged 74 by standard sources, although Radzinsky maintains he was a year older. Photos. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour.