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Young Stalin Paperback – 1 May 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; Reprinted Edition edition (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753823799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753823798
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling and prize-winning books are now published in over 45 languages. His next major history book will be 'The Romanovs: 1613-1918,' a full history of the nineteen tsars of the Romanov dynasty over three hundred years, to be published in 2016.
He has won literary prizes for both fiction and non-fiction. His latest novel, 'One Night in Winter' won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize and was longlisted for the Orwell Prize. His thriller-love-stories set in Russia -'One Night in Winter' and 'Sashenka' - are both out in paperback.
Amongst his history books: 'Catherine the Great & Potemkin' was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes. 'Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar' won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. 'Young Stalin' won the Costa Biography Award (UK), the LA Times Book Prize for Biography (US), Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). 'Jerusalem: The Biography' won Jewish Book of the Year Prize (USA) and was Sunday Times number one non-fiction bestseller (UK).
Montefiore read history at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University where he was awarded his Doctorate of Philosophy. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham, Dr Montefiore is the presenter of 3 BBC TV series Jerusalem (2011); Rome (2012) and Istanbul/Constantinople - 'Byzantium: a tale of 3 cities'...

To follow the author on twitter: @simonmontefiore. For more information: www.simonsebagmontefiore.com

Product Description

Review

Simon Sebag Montefiore's thrilling portrait of Stalin's youth ... A remarkable book ... Montefiore gives a brilliant account of the 1907 Tiflis heist ... the resulting scenes of mayhem were worthy of the De Niro and Pacino film HEAT (Michael Burleigh Sunday Telegraph)

Should the life of a black-hearted ogre, a mass murderer ... be quite so entertaining? The story Montefiore has told requires the psychological penetration and social omniscience of a great novelist. Dickens once or twice peeps over the biographer's shoulder ... A racy, vivid biopic (Peter Conrad Observer)

This picture of Stalin as a poet is one of the revelations of Simon Sebag Montefiore's macabrely fascinating YOUNG STALIN ... Stalin's life [is] worthy of Dumas ... Brilliantly drawn (Antonia Fraser Mail on Sunday)

Magnificent ... YOUNG STALIN is a masterpiece of detail. Sebag Montefiore has unearthed documents long lost in Georgian archives, found the descendants of Soso's friends and produced a vivid psychological portrait of this dangerous, alluring, enigmatic man ... This book moves with pace and authority (Michael Binyon The Times)

A gripping read... Simon Sebag Montefiore's research ... is brilliant. The book provides a wealth of serious and scurrilous detail, creating a memorable portrait of one of the 20th century's greatest monsters (Antony Beevor Daily Telegraph)

An outstanding book, full of surprises. A rich and complex figure emerges from the new material Sebag Montefiore has unearthed in archives ... This book is a triumph of research and storytelling (Victor Sebestyen Evening Standard)

On practically every page of YOUNG STALIN, there is a reason to smile with satisfaction at the thrust of revelation, and often a reason to gasp or even to chuckle. As quasi-academic populist biography goes ... this is as good as it gets (Christopher Silvester Independent on Sunday)

Montefiore gives us a richly and fluently documented study of the chief terrorist in the making. His chapters have an anecdotal exuberance and factual novelty. It is an impressive work of examination (Robert Service Sunday Times)

Familiar material is transformed with fresh depth and detail. While magnificently entertaining, it reveals the complexity of historical conditions that forge revolutions and their leaders (Carol Rumens Independent)

Outstanding ... It is hard to imagine how this account can be improved on. The narrative flows with insight and humour: YOUNG STALIN is a prequel that outshines even THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR (Donald Rayfield Literary Review)

An enthralling but appalling account ... The author writes with panache, style and acerbic wit ... Paints a portrait of Stalin which is the most rounded we have in any language. A mass of contradictions, he is brilliantly brought to life in this superb biography (Martin McCauley History Today)

YOUNG STALIN, like its predecessor, bubbles over like an erupting volcano. A better metaphor might be a Siberian snowstorm: the details glitter, and freeze the blood (Daniel Snowman Jewish Chronicle)

Full of fascinating nuggets ... A gripping but dark Boys' Own adventure, packed with bombs, violence and treachery (Financial Times Magazine)

Montefiore is in a class of his own. As he did in STALIN: COURT OF THE RED TSAR, Montefiore has unearthed an unprecedented range of evidence from archives, and has tracked down an astonishing range of witnesses ... in this brilliantly researched book. The portrait of Stalin that emerges from these pages is more complete, more colourful, more chilling and far more convincing that any we have had before (Orlando Figes New York Review of Books)

A dark and terrifying story, and there could be no better guide than Montefiore. He's uncovered a mind-blowing amount of material from archives in Moscow and Georgia. The ultimate effect of YOUNG STALIN is to create a haunting, meticulous and compelling story of a man well worth trying to understand (Nicholas Thompson Los Angeles Times)

The most revelatory and scoop-laden biography I have read in ages, besides being a factual thriller (Andrew Marr Observer)

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, this remarkable book gives new insight into the making of the monster who often emerges less as a steely ideologue than a repellent rogue - but more complex and multifaceted than before (Colin Thubron Observer)

A gripping and convincing account of the web-toed monster from his earliest years (Jonathan Mirsky Spectator)

Montefiore offers a portrait as chilling as it is intimate (Ruth Scurr The Times)

Gripping. Montefiore approaches Stalin's early life with the insight of a novelist and the eye of a cinematographer and achieves a rare trick: a work of scholarship which is also a page turner (Stephanie Merritt Observer)

Book Description

Vital prequel to the internationally bestselling biography STALIN: COURT OF THE RED TSAR

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Hooker on 25 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a great biography. It's fast moving, full of action and Montefiore really brings the young Stalin to life as you flick from page to spell-binding page.

You find yourself at turns liking the passion and charisma of the protagonist, and then repelled by his nascent cruelty and emotional coldness.

This book really explodes the myth that Stalin was simply a "grey blur" before he began to seize power in the 1920's. He was a competent, intelligent and experienced revolutionary, who was important to Lenin and popular with the party grass roots. His drive and personal magnetism are awe-inspiring, and Sebag Montefiore's book is an exercise in demonstrating how true greatness is born.

I can't wait to read the author's book on Stalin's later life, "The Court of the Red Tsar".
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81 of 87 people found the following review helpful By George Rodger on 20 May 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A simply superb account of Stalin's early years, with an unparalleled depth of research. I had thought that Edward Ellis Smith's 'The Young Stalin' would be near-impossible to beat, but Sebag Montefiore has made important and revealing discoveries, not just in Moscow archives, but crucially in Georgia too.
For the first time, Stalin's pre-Revolutionary career as a professional revolutionary-cum-gangster, organising robberies - including the famous Tiflis one of 1907 - extortion, arson, piracy and murder is comprehensively laid out. But the author also shows that Stalin's political organisational skills, his importance to Lenin and to the Bolshevik movement - and the reasons for them - have been underplayed by enemies like Trotsky, who called him a 'mediocrity', so we get a more fully-rounded view of the young Stalin than was available previously, and one that helps explain his subsequent rise to power.
The author states that the book is the result of almost ten years of research, and he has truly found astonishing new sources. For example, memoirs about Stalin collected in Russia before the Terror in 1937 were often found to be surprisingly frank, tactless or derogatory - but they were not destroyed. They were simply preserved in the archives, and they have survived.
Stalin's attractiveness to women, and an impressive love-life - even when on the run - is laid out too, right down to the secret 1956 KGB investigation into Stalin's seduction and impregnation of a 13-year old girl during one of his Siberian exiles.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Keith Harrison VINE VOICE on 9 Aug 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've just read Simon Sebag Montefiore's book, Young Stalin and it is not often that one is forced so radically to alter one's entire view of someone so famous.

I am not saying that I came away from the book struck by how Stalin was actually just a regular guy, or that he was deeply misunderstood and not at all a monster. Anything but: the Stalin presented to us is quite clearly a case of the boy as father of the man.

But I - like just about everyone else in the West, I should say - had always fallen for Trotsky's version of events. I thought that Stalin's early life was that of a grey, dour, methodical man who ground his way to the stop through scheming, opportunism and a mastery of the processes of bureaucracy. I had a view of him as the methodical counterpart to Hitler's sub-artistic, charismatic leader of men: an impression gleaned in large part from Allan Bullock's great study of the pair.

In fact, it transpires that the young Stalin - or Soso, as he was known by many at the time - was by far the more glamourous, artistic and even charismatic. While Hitler daubed postcards, Stalin wrote poetry. And not doggerel: Stalin organised a huge bank robbery in Georgia - one reported around the world at the time - thanks largely to having someone on the inside. That insider helped Stalin because of his love of the young revolutionary's poetry: poetry written as a schoolboy which, nonetheless, was published widely long before Soso became Stalin. He was a beautiful singer, a dedicated and brilliant student, and a talented (if sometimes mercurial) teacher. The later cult of personality had much to work with.

This Stalin - despite the pockmarks of childhood disease, a limp and a crippled arm - leaves a trail of lovers and illegitimate children behind him.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. T. Baxter VINE VOICE on 24 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
I was really surprised by my reaction to this book. Like pretty much any sane person I consider Stalin to be one of the great tyrants of history. A brutal murderer; paranoid, violent and cruel. However, reading the story of his early years I often found myself rooting for him in his struggles with the Tsarist police, brutal teachers and violent father.

He comes across, at least to start with, as a romantic character. He was an excellent writer and poet, and was loyal to his friends and his women. He saw injustice and fought against it with all his strength. But over time his brutal upbringing and his resulting lack of trust in others began to take over. In the end the sympathetic traits are consumed by paranoia and hatred, and this book is a wonderful description of how this transformation happened.

A really exciting story and a brilliant case study in the formative events of a unique criminal psychopathology.
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