This revelatory account unveils how Stalin became Stalin, examining his shadowy journey from obscurity to power—from master historian Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Based on ten years of research, Young Stalin—companion to the prizewinning Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar—is a brilliant prehistory of the USSR, a chronicle of the Revolution, and an intimate biography. Montefiore tells the story of a charismatic, darkly turbulent boy born into poverty, scarred by his upbringing but possessed of unusual talents. Admired as a romantic poet and trained as a priest, he found his true mission as a murderous revolutionary. Here is the dramatic story of his friendships and hatreds, his many love affairs, his complicated relationship with the Tsarist secret police, and how he became the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image. Described by The New York Times as "a meticulously researched, autoritative biography," Young Stalin is essential reading for anyone interested in Russian history.
Winner of the Costa Book Award for Biography
A Christian Science Monitor and Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
Russian historian and author Montefiore presents an exciting, exemplary biography of the nondescript peasant boy who would become the most ruthless leader in Soviet history, a prequel of sorts to his Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Born in 1878 in the Caucasus of Georgia to an overprotective mother (who had already lost two sons) and a father opposed to education ("I'm a shoemaker and my son will be one too"), Stalin possessed a talent for poetry and mischief. Amidst his mom's trysts (with men she hoped would further Stalin's education), his father's alcohol-fueled violence and the powder-keg environment of the Caucasus, Stalin turned from priesthood training to gang life and petty crime. As he grew, so did his hatred of Tsarist Russia, leading him to meet the initial Bolsheviks, and to more spectacular and violent capers. From the start, Stalin proved a remarkable talent for meticulous planning, a skill that would become vital to the revolutionaries and, later, to his iron-fisted reign. Using recently opened records, Montefiore turns up intriguing new information (like the "Fagin-like" role he played among "a prepubescent revolutionary street intelligence" network), Montefiore captures in an absorbing narrative both Stalin's conflicted character-marked by powerful charisma and deep paranoia-and the revolution's early years with stunning clarity.