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Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar


Book Overview: Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

NATIONAL BESTSELLER - This widely acclaimed biography of a Soviet dictator and his entourage during the terrifying decades of his supreme power transforms our understanding of the Marxist leader and Russian tsar. - From the bestselling author of The Romanovs.

Based on groundbreaking research, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals the fear and betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous cruelty of this secret world. Written with bracing narrative verve, this feat of scholarly research has become a classic of modern history writing. Showing how Stalin's triumphs and crimes were the product of his fanatical Marxism and his gifted but flawed character, this is an intimate portrait of a man as complicated and human as he was brutal and chilling.

"The first intimate portrait of a man who had more lives on his conscience than Hitler.... Disturbing and perplexing." --The New York Times Book Review

Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes-as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag-has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin's reign are well known, this remarkable biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation-human, psychological and physical-that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him.

In a seamless meshing of exhaustive research, brilliant synthesis and narrative elan, Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the life and lives of Stalin's court from the time of his acclamation as "leader" in 1929, five years after Lenin's death, until his own death in 1953 at the age of seventy-three. Through the lens of personality-Stalin's as well as those of his most notorious henchmen, Molotov, Beria and Yezhov among them-the author sheds new light on the oligarchy that attempted to create a new world by exterminating the old. He gives us the details of their quotidian and monstrous lives: Stalin's favorites in music, movies, literature (Hemmingway, "The Forsyte Saga and "The Last of the Mohicans were at the top of his list), food and history (he took Ivan the Terrible as his role model and swore by Lenin's dictum, "A revolution without firing squads is meaningless"). We see him among his courtiers, his informal but deadly game of power played out at dinners and parties at Black Sea villas and in the apartments of the Kremlin. We see the debauchery, paranoia and cravenness that ruled the lives of Stalin's inner court, and we see how the dictator played them one against the other in order to hone the awful efficiency of his killing machine.

With stunning attention to detail, Montefiore documents the crimes, small and large, of all the members of Stalin's court. And he traces the intricate and shifting web of their relationships as the relative warmth of Stalin's rule in the early 1930s gives way to the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the upheaval of World War II (there has never been as acute an account of Stalin's meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt) and the horrific postwar years when he terrorized his closest associates as unrelentingly as he did the rest of his country.

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Publication Date2005-09-13
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Simon Sebag Montefiore is an internationally renowned British historian, presenter and award-winning author. Montefiore's work is greatly hailed for its meticulous historical facts and riveting storytelling, offering readers an in-depth view into world history. Striking a balance between scholarly research and vibrant narrative, his body of work spans from historical biographies to historical fiction, and is published in over 48 languages. Born and educated in London, Montefiore went on to earn his degree from the University of Cambridge. Prior to embarking on his successful writing career, he worked as a foreign affairs journalist, which provided him with a broad global perspective that shines through in his multi-dimensional narratives. His acclaimed works include the celebrated biographies of Stalin and Catherine the Great, "Jerusalem: The Biography" and several historical novels such as the Moscow Trilogy. Often seen on television presenting history programs, Montefiore's unique ability to bring the past to life has garnered him a distinct position among the greatest historians of the modern era. His work has not only earned him numerous literary awards but also the admiration of readers and historians alike across the globe.

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