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Stalin  By  cover art

Stalin

By: Oleg V. Khlevniuk,Nora Seligman Favorov - translator
Narrated by: Peter Ganim
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Publisher's Summary

Josef Stalin exercised supreme power in the Soviet Union from 1929 until his death in 1953. During that quarter century, by Oleg Khlevniuk's estimate, he caused the imprisonment and execution of no fewer than a million Soviet citizens per year. Millions more were victims of famine directly resulting from Stalin's policies. What drove him toward such ruthlessness?

This essential biography, by the author most deeply familiar with the vast archives of the Soviet era, offers an unprecedented, fine-grained portrait of Stalin, the man and dictator. Without mythologizing Stalin as either benevolent or an evil genius, Khlevniuk resolves numerous controversies about specific events in the dictator's life while assembling many hundreds of previously unknown letters, memos, reports, and diaries into a comprehensive, compelling narrative of a life that altered the course of world history.

In brief, revealing prologues to each chapter, Khlevniuk takes his reader into Stalin's favorite dacha, where the innermost circle of Soviet leadership gathered as their vozhd lay dying. Chronological chapters then illuminate major themes: Stalin's childhood, his involvement in the Revolution and the early Bolshevik government under Lenin, his assumption of undivided power and mandate for industrialization and collectivization, the Terror, World War II, and the postwar period. At the book's conclusion, the author presents a cogent warning against nostalgia for the Stalinist era.

Cover image: "Stalin is our banner!" poster, 1948. Collection of the Russian State Library, Moscow. © Heritage Image Partnership Ltd/Alamy, Reportage/Archival image.

©2015 Oleg Khlevniuk; Yale University (Translation) (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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What listeners say about Stalin

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Loved it, but wouldn't want to live it

I loved the book, I initially didn't like the narration, but for real information he was great. Don't need too much drama. Stalin was one of the worst humans in history second only to Mao. Hitler was a freshman compared to these thugs. The book followed Stalin throughout his political life and hits you with historical facts throughout. I had to closely listen. The only drawback I found was it bounced forward and back with history. I am sure there are longer books on Stalin, but plenty of information here to get who this cold serial dictator killer was.

9 people found this helpful

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Stalin and Trump

Many are comparing trump to hitler, but after hearing this book I would say he is more like Stalin. It also gives great insight to the Russian people and the hold that Putin has on them.

6 people found this helpful

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Great book.

Great and unbiased bio of Stalin. Beware of wanting socialism and the people who push it. Inevitably you will end up with someone like Stalin.

6 people found this helpful

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Nuanced and clever

Great book in the genre of biographies of the worst dictators of the 20th century. Interesting thoughts on new Russian biographies of Stalin, trying different ways to rehabilitate him. Also very sympathetic that the author lets the reader know quite a bit about his historical method and about his ideas on writing biographies. Not only Stalin comes to life - he grew his own melons and enjoyed gardening - but also large parts of the political system and quite a bit of social history, fascinating and, of course, often very bleak and grim.

5 people found this helpful

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A well researched picture

An excellent look at Stalin, thanks to new information from archives debunking many myths and theories. Perhaps it's not the ultimate biography, but, it comes very close.

3 people found this helpful

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Deeply Disappointing

If you think he was just.. misunderstood. That he really wasn't that bad. This is the book for you.
If you think he was the most sadistic monster this world has ever produced.. You will be deeply disappointed by this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Great, balanced look at the life of a man traditionally criticized as cruel and ruthless

Russia has always been a country of hardship, violence, and survival of the strongest. Here, we get a proper treatment of Stalin as a man within the context of his times. We get an understanding of how his early experiences during and after the revolution — backstabbing, duplicity, and ambition of those all around him — shaped his totalitarian and ruthless ruling style that employed fully by the time he ascended to full power over the USSR. His cruelty and will no doubt led to the deaths of countless lives, within his party and across the USSR. On the other hand, his aggressive measures to bring Russia from a 19th-century state to a competitive industrial power that rivaled both Germany and America, within a handful of years, enabled the Soviets to contend with Germany alone, on the Western front, ultimately beating the Germans back into full retreat. Accounts of other players are skillfully woven into the biography, always with an eye on accenting small details that reveal the hidden humanity of Stalin. Riveting read, with great audio narration, you will be transfixed on absorbing this 18h-long audiobook once you get started.

2 people found this helpful

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Ole' Wonderful Work

Oleg Khlevniuk's work allowed me to feel his story. I learned SO much. I now want to read more about Russian history.

2 people found this helpful

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Early years were good, but WW2 and Korea was glossed over

A very long, detailed book that started well but seemed to run out of steam at WW2. I’m not sure if the author was just tired or saving information for a book specifically on Stalin in the WW2 and Korea years but those two eras were not well covered. Unfortunately that was the era I was most interested, thus the 3 stars. I think I read more information on Stalin in WW2 in FDR, Truman and George Marshall biographies.
If you’re interested in learning about Stalin before 1939, this is an okay book. But for a complete biography of the man, this failed.

1 person found this helpful

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Review of “Stalin”, by Oleg Khlevniuk

Well written story complemented by lively and riveting narration. Well-organized chapter division. One of the better biographies on this, the cruelest tyrant in Russias’s long and tortured history.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alan Myers
  • 06-11-19

Not bad, but...

This book is a modern review, stating that it uses new material from the ex soviet archives. It is a good general review of Stalin’s life, suitable for someone who wants to find out about this man and his life and times.

The archival material is not very prevalent throughout the book, and it is neither very illuminative nor does it give us new insights, so if you are a seasoned reader of books on this topic, it adds very little.

The narration is very good, and manages to tread a fine line between keeping the narrative flowing whilst recognising the numbers of death and human misery under discussion are truly breathtaking.

Overall, a good introductory book for the first time reader, read well.

18 people found this helpful

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  • masambula
  • 09-17-19

Disappointing

Boring narrative ,lacking in insight and analysis.Fails to illuminate any of the personalities. Very disappointing particularly given the author's access to new archival material.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-24-18

Both fascinating & important

For anyone interested in the political and everyday history of the Soviet Union, this book is invaluable, as well as very interesting. It is an objective account written by an insider, an Ukrainian with access to the newly opened Soviet archives, and reveals much that was hitherto unknown about those years. He shows Stalin, the man, as well as Stalin, the dictator. I definitely recommend it for anyone who understands the importance of history.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Rhys
  • 05-25-19

A good book but a lacklustre narrator

The book itself is a good introduction to stalin, and if the author released a longer edition similar to Ian Kershaws - Hitler, I would definitely get it. However, the narrator almost made me return the book. Every sentence feels slightly isolated from the last and so there is a distinct lack of of emphasis, punctuation and a monotone intonation. I wouldn't listen to a book with this narrator again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr L Palmer
  • 05-10-19

Two thumbs down for the narration

The narrators delivery is the finest monotone. He manages to make Stalin and the history of Russia seem extremely boring.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 02-21-21

Get past the narrator to enjoy a great biography.

I chose to ignore the previous reviews about the narrator, if you can get past the lack of intonation, inflection or emotion in his performance, you'll find a thoroughly engaging and interesting biography of Stalin.

2 people found this helpful

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  • KayDee
  • 02-03-21

Brilliant

I really enjoyed this biography and learnt a lot that WWII history lessons at school didn't mention.
Fascinating, horrific and sad.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-25-20

Excellent work

I am absolutely fascinated by this very meticulous and carefully written historical work. Thanks for pursuing this vocation of yours Oleg... I wish I could do it as well as you.

Skuli Gudmundsson

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nat
  • 05-13-19

boring narrator

some information didn't seem completely backed up but maybe it was referenced in a physical copy? appreciated dissection of stalin's character and think will listen again to take it all in.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Boy Thorne
  • 08-20-19

Change the narrator.

Very informative book detailing the life of Stalin and providing some insight to the psychology behind the infamous dynasty he created. Narration is on the verge of killing the story, poor pronunciation and dreary tone does not make for easy listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Philip
  • 10-27-21

No surprises here but an insight into the man

No one expects Stalin to be nice but the reality is that Stalin was a name he chose and he was far worse. A narcissist with megalomania and no social conscience, it’s hard to understand why he gained such power and assassination was not facilitated. The odd thing is that he was a cult leader and the power seekers of the day need such a man for their own ends. The KGB were his secret weapon. Yet occasionally even bus close allies were sacrificed by him and yet that power further escalated. The world was only saved by his own self-neglect of his health - little exercise, lots of food and vodka whilst the peasants of the USSR, whom he despised, starved. He would have supported Trump and been against global warming. And today we have his modern day equivalent - Putin. Possibly even cleverer and more ruthless than Stalin.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-21-21

Shy on detail

I was expecting more, but, I guess it's not so easy for writers when information is not restricted. Nonetheless, what was presented was interesting enough and worth the listen.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-20

Great but dry at times!

The first half is quite dry and a little hard to digest. There is very little context given to non-major players, but the complex narrative pieces itself together eventually! And the initial parts of the book are incredibly important to the latter half.

The book reaches its stride in the halfway mark!
Recommend!

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  • Robert
  • 12-03-19

amazing narrator, great book

it's incredible how well this book is read! the narrator changes his tone, pretends the voice of stalin, it's such a great performance! the content of the book is good too, informative about the horrible man.

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  • Phil
  • 04-15-19

Brilliant, must read

incredibly interesting look into without doubt one of the 20th century's most important men. Will give the listener a great historical record of the early days of the Soviet Union and Stalin's ruthless power grab to get to the top and stay there until his death.