Stalin (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Author Robert Service acknowledges that several excellent biographies of the Soviet dictator have previously been published, but he believes that they have all failed to describe adequately the dictator’s complexities and contradictory qualities. Stalin: A Biography, therefore, “is aimed at showing that [Joseph Stalin] was a more dynamic and diverse figure than has conventionally been supposed.” A complex human being not reducible to a single dimension, Stalin “was a bureaucrat and a killer, he was also a leader, a writer and editor, a theorist (of sorts), a bit of poet (when young), a follower of the arts, a family man and a charmer.” Despite some humane qualities, however, he was “as wicked a man as has ever lived,” displaying paranoid tendencies, abnormal compulsions to dominate and seek vengeance, and an absence of moral qualms about causing the deaths of countless persons, including former friends and associates.
Having previously published and edited at least eight books about modern Russian history, Service is very familiar with the mountain of primary and secondary sources relating to Stalin’s life and career. At least two-thirds of the book’s footnotes refer to Russian-language materials not translated into English. This is the first major biography of Stalin to appear since the large-scale opening of Soviet archives after the breakup of the Soviet Union, although the vast majority of significant discoveries have...
(The entire section is 1905 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 14 (March 15, 2005): 1262.
Contemporary Review 286 (May, 2005): 318.
The Economist 34 (January 8, 2005): 74.
Library Journal 130, no. 10 (June 1, 2005): 142.
The New Leader 88, no. 2 (March/April, 2005): 17-19.
New Statesman 133 (October 18, 2004): 50-51.
The New York Times 154 (April 13, 2005): E10.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (June 12, 2005): 22-23.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 8 (February 21, 2005): 164.
The Times Literary Supplement, December 24, 2004, p. 14.
The Washington Post Book World, April 17, 2005, p. 3.
(The entire section is 55 words.)