Stalin by Robert ServiceOverthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.
Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalins life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.
Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge.
Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Services lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date.
Joseph Stalin, Leader of the Soviet Union (1878-1953)
10 Facts About Joseph Stalin
He oversaw the war machine that helped defeat Nazism and was the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union for a quarter of a century. His regime of terror caused the death and suffering of tens of millions. But this powerful man began life as the son of an alcoholic cobbler and a doting mother who sent him to study to be a priest. He is born on 18 December in Gori, Georgia in the Russian empire. He is first named Iosif Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.
Joseph Stalin () was the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from to Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. After Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin () died.
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Stalin forced rapid industrialization and the collectivization of agricultural land, resulting in millions dying from famine while others were sent to labor camps. At age 7, he contracted smallpox, leaving his face scarred. The other village children treated him cruelly, instilling in him a sense of inferiority. He also developed a cruel streak for those who crossed him. Stalin's mother, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian , wanted him to become a priest. In , she managed to enroll him in church school in Gori. Some of the members were socialists who introduced him to the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.