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Stalin

New Biography of a Dictator
Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 18 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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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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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.

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  • Hokkaido
  • 08-07-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • brian
  • 22-03-2018

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 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Tobias Hörnfeldt Röhr
  • 18-10-2019

Everyone should reed this book

It is wonderful book in all its horror, I had to stop listening to it for some days due to it was so sad I could not stop my self from crying. But it was worth it. I learned a lot. wish everyone could read/listen to it,

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  • kpd
  • 07-07-2019

Fascinating Biography

STALIN is a fascinating, intimate, and well organized biography of one of the most monstrous men to ever rule a major power. Khlevniuk doesn't delve into conspiracy, doesn't gloss over Stalin's crimes, and documents all his rich sources. Likely a book I wouldn't have finished if reading only due to it's level of detail, the narration by Peter Ganim is even, deep, and engaging. Highly recommended for anyone wishing for a peek behind the iron curtain at it's most powerful.

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  • J. P.
  • 28-06-2019

Great view into the Dictator

My first real intro to Stalin the man was in a book about Truman and the Potsdam Conference. This book did a great job of showing the horrors of Stalin and his systems. I found it informative and think it did a good job of keeping the foreign words from getting overwhelming.

The book is a good length, long enough be detailed but not so long as to be a slog.

I recommend it.

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  • William P. Warford
  • 10-03-2019

Insightful look at a dictator

I learned a lot about Stalin's background and behind the scenes decision-making that I didn't know before. At first, it was a little disconcerting how the author switched back and forth between Stalin's early life and his final hours. But once I got used to that, it made sense and added to the enjoyment of the book.

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  • Richard S Setterstrom
  • 11-11-2018

Very informative

This provided me with a lot of information about Stalin that I have never heard before. I highly recommend it to anyone else looking to learn more about Stalin.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-09-2018

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 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Davis
  • 01-04-2018

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 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Rex
  • 29-12-2018

Scary Truth About Socialism

The scary truth about the Social Democrat Party of Russia and how they changed their name to the Communist Party as soon as they took power. This begins with Vladmir Lenin who explained that "the goal of Socialism is Communism" and "the cornerstone of Communism is socialized healthcare." Stalin grew up studying in a Seminary where he developed Marxist ideology, much like the Pope has today, he went on to idolize Vladmir Lenin and eventually the two worked together. In the end about 7M people died in their Civil War (people called the US Civil War bloody--only 618,000 died in our Civil War), another 16M died from starvation, and to suppress their political opponents they fabricated evidence such as dossiers and conducted endless investigations with special counselors and their version of the FBI and our Secret FISA Courts being the Secret Police or KGB. They envisioned a world of Global Socialism without borders wherein the Government controlled all food, transportation, resources, and housing--just like they have outlined in UN Agenda 21. There was always something to fear to keep giving the Government control and for the Russians, it was war, war was always right around the corner--In UN Agenda 21 they outlined Climate Change as something to fear and that is the rational for giving the Government more control over our lives, food, transportation, housing...

I hope you read or listen to this book and help others understand the dangers of Socialism.

If I had to complain about the book, it would be the edits. The edits were very noticeable as in a change in the audio gain changed dramatically, but there were few edits.

6 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • 匿名
  • 24-06-2018

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • masambula
  • 17-09-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan Myers
  • 11-06-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr L Palmer
  • 10-05-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Boy Thorne
  • 20-08-2019

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.

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  • Rhys
  • 25-05-2019

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.

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  • Nat
  • 13-05-2019

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.