Simon Sebag Montefiore: Young Stalin



F IllustrationsStalin Family TreeMapsIntroductionList of CharactersNote Young Stalin Stalin s Names Nicknames Bylines and AliasesAcknowledgementsSelect BibliographyIndexThe full and extremely extensive references for this book are available in the hardback edition and also on the author s website at In order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size the author and publishers have ecided not to include the notes in the paperback We hope readers will agree that for most the balance of convenience is best served by this policy I can imagine a clickbaity Billy Bragg description the book Stalinoes not want you to read While historical and well researched in its nature this book reads like an action novel and it s one of the best character studies I ve ever read It s entertaining intense revealing and sobering at times showing how a tyrant is made Having been to some of the places Polly Prices Totally Secret Diary described in the book it all becomes a bit even tangible I wish histo Even the preface starts off strong with a brilliantly vividescription of Stalin s first bank heist That particular narrative reads like an action novel than a biographySimilarly the author portrays Soso s Stalin s childhood home of Gori Georgia as a hotbed of mischief both major and minor From all out town brawls to school field trips to witness an execution the town reminds me of an almost cartoonish epiction of a criminal haven Further Stalin s NUMEROUS escapes from capture from incarceration and from exile seem like things that could only happen in a bad movie Once Stalin reaches his twenties the book borders on repetitive as is Stalin s life Stalin gets exiled sleeps with some local teenagers escapes stirs up trouble repeat All in all an engrossing historical biography and this coming from someone who oes not particularly enjoy history Reading this The Majors Daughter definitely made me yearn to learn about Stalin s time in power and the Terror he unleashed my current knowledge being limited to what I need to know to teach Animal Farm If Sebag Montefiore s other Stalin book weren t 800 pages I would be starting it right now As I am planning to read Stalin Court of the Red Tsar I thought it would make sense to read this volume first and I am so glad that Iid This volume takes Stalin from his childhood up to 1917 and encompasses so much I knew very little about Stalin before reading this and so this was full of surprises for me It begins with a bank raid of which Stalin was involved in many to get money for the cause Montefiore writes as though this is fiction rather than fact and really Miss Shumway Waves a Wand draws the reader in Mind you much of Stalin s life reads like fiction We have the poverty stricken childhood the over protective mother and violentrunken father A child who is obviously bright and intelligent whose father is opposed to his receiving an education Always in trouble always rebellious Stalin s young life contained many contradictions He almost became a priest was always an obsessive reader and inspired great loyalty friendship and love Yet he was argumentative took The Touch deepislikes to people held a grudge was thin skinned and was indeed always in trouble In later years this resulted in several visits to prison and to exile including to Siberia The book states a little piece of Siberia remained lodged in Stalin for the rest of his life I enjoyed this biography immensely and look forward to reading on with the second volume in this biography This is Stalin before he was Stalin While Montefiore s previous book The Court of the Red Tsar covers Stalin s years in power here we get a look into his childhood home and abuse his uestionable parentage his career as a poet who knew his seminary schooling his early crimes arrests exiles his multiple girlfriends his meeting with Lenin his early rivalry with Trotsky and his seemingly constant impregnating of teenagers and fathering of children he never met Both his marriages are briefly explored as are his mommy issues We get a sense of what might have created the On His Majestys Service detached emotionless egotistical monstrous Stalin that we know There s a lot of never before published firsthand information and anecdotes from childhood friends ex in laws old flames acuaintances Probably my favorite revelation was that Stalin s lover later became his second mother in law and rumors went around that his much younger second wife was really hisaughter this was later Different Class debunked as theates were a couple of years off The book also includes some of his poetry which was uite unexpected Montefiore s writing approach is accessible and I loved reading it I ll efinitely be seeking out his other boo. Nd the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image How Stalin became Stal.

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Bettie s Books A really entertaining read about the life of Stalin before he actually became Stalin Filled with a wealth of information about his upbringing family friends relationships gangster ays and the beginnings of the original Politburo in Communist Russia Would recommend to anyone interested in the personal history of one of the world s most hated Textbook of Wisdom dictators Wow what a cool guy Real Robin Hood bank robber taking from the rich and giving to the central committee always one step ahead of the tsar and his okhrana henchmen Lot of affairs with bolshevik babes and I guess he ran some kind of underground journal Badass Also lots of cool stuff about going into exile and being pulled around on reindeer sleighs and escaping exile And some good clowning on that nerd TrotskyNot going to bother reading the seuel about his life after 1917 Assume he either continues being a very cool guy or mellows out a bit This is the best biography I ve read in a long time Iidn t know much about Stalin and had only basic knowledge of Russian history before I started but Montefiore s book leaves me hungry for The book begins with an excellent hook In Defence of Dogs describing a sensational bank robbery Stalin perpetrated in Tiflis Georgia It s also very well researched with lots of endnotes and footnotes but no so many footnotes as toistract from the text Even better it s written in such a way that the characters even the peripheral ones come alive I had no idea there were so many colorful characters in the ying Russian Empire Surprisingly many passages were excruciatingly funny such as the escription of Stalin s pet psychopath Kamo feigning insanity to the point where he actually became insaneI would HIGHLY recommend this book even if you re not all that interested in Stalin or Russia After all I wasn t February 2016 then on 31 July and 1 Aug 2018 edited for clarityListened to this on Audio CD Fascinating Very well read by James Adams Paints Stalin as much intellectual than most The City in Mind describe him One cause Trotsky was a powerful writer who totally misjudged andemeaned Stalin and has had much better press Another reason socialists who still love the idea of socialism find it very hard to justify and explain how the Soviet Union could fall prey to this man Stalin had to paint him as an evil no nothing not a product of the system he Lenin Marx Trotsky and the rest createdDid you know the city of Vienna in 1913 was where ALL the following people livedStalin Lenin Bukharin Trotsky Tito Otto Bauer Hitler Max Weber Freud Richard Strauss in addition to Wittgenstein and the Viennese Circle of philosophersThe author notes all or most of these famous and infamous individuals especially Hitler for obvious reasons But of course he missed the too little known but most powerful ideological enemies of Stalin and the other Marxists The Austrian economists Menger B hm Bawerk Wieser Mises and Hayek all native to and living in Vienna then Mises had not yet written his famous article then later turned into his book Socialism Revenge (The Red Ledger destroying the idea that a pure socialist society could be a rational or thriving one but rather would be reduced to the lowest form of survivalStalin was in Vienna in 1913 at the behest of Lenin to write a position paper for the Bolshevik party of Russia on the nationalities issue Greater Russia was composed of many many various nationalities which the Tzars had conuered and made part of Russia including of course Georgians Armenians Azerbaijanis Chechens etc Mises had just finished his great book Theory of Money and Credit which had won him high recognition in the realm of economic theory and government policy He had probably just begun his own study of the subject Stalin was working on but from a veryifferent perspective His book was to be published in 1919 just after WWI Nation State and Economy Too bad they never met The world and in particular the Russian people and individuals of nationalities later conuered subjugated and in many places annihilated by Stalin could only have been better off if Mises and Stalin metThe book is uite good at showing how Stalin steadily climbed the Bolshevik web of intrigue to the top up through 1917 with many references to what happened later fully No One Wants You described by the author in his earlier book Stalin the Court of the Red Tsar and made himself invaluable to Lenin the Party His bank robberies vandalism extortion piracy killings secrecy paranoia unending philanderings are all here in graphicetail But additional information about his studiousness his range and The City Of Heavenly Tranquillity depth of reading andiscussing great books his writing his powerful. Based on ten years' astonishing new research here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic angerous.

Polemics his singing voice and his poetry are all fully revealed He was actually a very promising and published poet in a country Georgia which had a passion for poetry and poetsBut what the book id not well enough on in my view was what was it about Marxism Leninism that stirred Stalin s highest passion held his resolve through exile and near extinction and uenched his thirst for knowledge This is the key issue to me what a biography of one of the biggest mass murderers of all time should explore in epth Many many clues are given But too many are stray not focused on this key issueIt was also interesting to me that the author Simon Sebag Montefiore classified Stalin as a killer in only Hitler s league when by the numbers Hitler was probably much the lesser at least regarding their own countrymen but Mao unmentioned probably beat him out by many millions of murders See the works of Rummel Death by Government The Black Book of Communism by several authors and other books for the full grisly factsAnother curious aspect of the book was the author s constant reference to many many memoirs of key people in Stalin s life I have NEVER read references to so many memoirs in ANY biography as in this one Virtually ALL the main folks in his life including his own mother and the lowest and youngest Siberian lover s memoirs were referenced It s either incredible scholarship or the strangest thing I have ever heard I must confess that I am a footnote reader from way back so listening to a biography like this on audio CD without the ability to check footnotesend notes leaves me feeling somewhat helpless Can all these memoirs actually be real I o like the way the author fairly often notes that the particular memoir he uses could or could not be taken at face value Background motives and credibility of memoir or history writers referenced were uestioned and seemingly used appropriately That sounded good to me though I am far from an expert on this subjectAn inconsistency in the bookAt various times he said Stalin had thin skin couldn t take criticism well but other times he said Stalin was very reserved and in control in very toughtense situations being interrogated by the police commanding his bank heists extortion plans and Mauserists etc So called because they took their Mauser pistols everywhere they went and were not shy about using themA good part of the book It smashed the minor myth that the Tsarist government was as totalitarian as the communists Not even close when you compare the sentences and harshness of the imprisonments and exiles in Tsarist vs Communist RussiaA point I pondered uring and after reading the book Why were the police and Okhrana so inept in actually prosecuting and putting away Stalin and his compatriots of the very real crimes they committed robbery extortion kidnapping arson piracy murder bribery etc The book could have asked and explored the uestion Was there anything the Tsar s regime could have Divine Beauty done to prevent Stalin from turning into a communist or continuing and strengthening his Bolshevik resolveuring the years of his youth The exile punishments certainly Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone did not work well achieve their purpose with Stalin nor on many if not most of his compatriots Lenin Trotsky etcStill another curiosity of the book was the author s lack of significantescription of how Lenin got the German government to arrange the infamous sealed train to Petrograd St Petersburg in 1917 Down to the Sea in Ships during WWI Granted this is a book about Stalin and not Lenin But still this was a pretty momentous occurrence since Lenin was the motive force and strategist behind the Bolsheviks and their upcoming putsch at that time Lenin Stalin and the other top Bolsheviks had later toeal with how to make Lenin not appear to be seen as a traitor to Russia with his coming via Germany the WWI enemy There was no reference at all to the very readable and accessible Lenin in Zurich by Solzhenitsyn which ealt with the Bolshevik sympathizing businessman ugh beware of this type who actually made it possible Highly recommended ancillary readingThe book on CD is fairly long 13 CDs and some parts were a little tough to follow how many Russian names can you istinguish and keep straight with all the intrigue that was going on especially when each Russian usually had at least two Dog Years different names Heck just telling Kamo from Kaminovsky was tough enough But the narrator was really good and if you want to know about how Stalin came to be in the top three in the Soviet Unionuring the revolution and estined to beat out Trotsky to later become 1 this book seems uite good List Boy became a student priest romantic poet gangster mastermind prolific lover murderous revolutionary

A thrilling work of fiction Montefiore weaves a tight satisfying plot delivering surprises to the last page Stalin's chilling charisma is brilliantly realised The novel's theme is Love family love youthful romance adulterous passion One Night in Winter is full of redemptive love and inner freedom Evening StandardGripping and cleverly plotted Doomed love at the heart of a violent society is the heart of Montefiore's One Night in Winter depicting the Kafkaesue labyrinth into which the victims stumble The Sunday TimesCompulsively involving Our fear for the children keeps up turning the pages We follow the passions with sympathy The knot of events tugs at a wide range of emotions rarely experienced outside an intimate tyranny The TimesThe novel is hugely romantic His ease with the setting and historical characters is masterly The book maintains a tense pace Uniuely terrifying Heartrending Engrossing The Scotsman “Delicately plotted and buried within a layered elliptical narrative One Night in Winter is also a fidgety page turner which adroitly weaves a huge cast of characters into an arcane world” Time Out“A novel full of passion conspiracy hope despair suffering and redemption it transcends boundaries of genre being at once thriller and political drama horror and romance His ability to paint Stalin in such a way to make the reader uake with fire is matched by talent for creating truly heartbreaking characters the children who find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy the parents A gripping read and must surely be one of the best novels of 2013 ” NY Journal of Books Not just a thumpingly good read but also essentially a story of human fragility and passions albeit taking place under the intimidating shadow of a massive Stalinist portico The National Seriously good fun the Soviet march on Berlin nightmarish drinking games at Stalin's countryhouse the magnificence of the Bolshoi interrogations snow sex and exile lust adultery and romance Eminently readable and strangely affecting Sunday Telegraph Hopelessly romantic and hopelessly moving A mix of lovestory thriller and historical fiction Engrossing The Observer“Gripping Montefiore’s characters snare our sympathy and we follow them avidly This intricate at times disturbing always absorbing novel entertains and disturbs and seethes with moral complexity Characters realfictitious ring strikingly trueIt is to a large extent Tolstoyan ” The Australian“Enthralling Montefiore writes brilliantly about Love from teenage romance to the grand passion of adultery Readers of Sebastian Faulks and Hilary Mantel will lap this up A historical novel that builds into a nail biting drama a world that resembles Edith Wharton with the death penalty” Novel of