• by Robert Conquest
  • Narrated by Frederick Davidson
  • 15 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Of all the despots of our time, Joseph Stalin lasted the longest and wielded the greatest power, and his secrets have been the most jealously guarded - even after his death.In this book, the first to draw from recently released archives, Robert Conquest gives us Stalin as a child and student; as a revolutionary and communist theoretician; as a political animal skilled in amassing power and absolutely ruthless in maintaining it. He presents the landmarks of Stalin's rule: the clash with Lenin; collectivization; the Great Terror; the Nazi-Soviet pact and the Nazi-Soviet war; the anti-Semitic campaign that preceded his death; and the legacy he left behind.Distilling a lifetime's study, weaving detail, analysis, and research, Conquest has given us an extraordinarily powerful narrative of this incredible figure.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great 1991 Study on Stalin fka Dzhugashvili

Robert Conquest is one of the greatest historians writing about an evil dictator whose is responsible for more deaths, famine and destruction than perhaps any other dictator. The bio is comprehensive but not too long esp when listening to a fine narrator.

I hope Conquest's many other books, including The Great Terror and The Harvest of Sorrow, will become available on Audible.
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- John

Historically interesting, but ideologically driven

Lots of good history in this, but the author connects everything Stalin has done to his ideology as a Marxist. At the end, he says that there is discussion as to whether Stalin was a sociopath, but he basically argues that every bad thing that happened was due to Socialism and Communism and that otherwise, Stalin would have been, say, a particularly stern economics professor or something.

This is inadequate to say the least. Compare this to a cult leader who follows a narrative to the T and then implodes as the falsity of the narrative emerges in varied ways. He ends up killing his own people or himself or both and it all collapses. Ideology alone does not create the sort of lasting power monger and military force that Stalin was. There's much more to it than that - a reason why ideology speaks to a person. Compare this to "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," which has a thorough understanding of Hitler, his childhood, his personal relationships and his early megalomaniacal ambitions, as opposed to just saying "well, he's an anti-Semite and that explains it all."

The author also tries to marry all dictators in WWII to the Communist worldview, while later acknowledging that Hitler and Mussolini persecuted Socialists and Communists. The ideological bias and agenda is clear throughout the book, interrupting the flow of the narrative to reiterate that Marxism caused everything bad that happened.

So compared to other historical biographies, the author seems to accept "he's a communist so he was evil" as the primary understanding of Stalin in a way that does not address the psychological ego and will it takes to starve millions of your own people. I would think that a different biography would provide a more specific view of the man, rather than a critique of all Marxism disguised as a biography of one person. (The straw man "Marxism" at that).
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- Andrew

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-11-2008
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.