Stalin's Daughter

  • by Rosemary Sullivan
  • Narrated by Karen Cass
  • 19 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The award-winning author of Villa Air-Bel returns with a painstakingly researched, revelatory biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history's most monstrous dictators—her father, Josef Stalin.
Born in the early years of the Soviet Union, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation and purges that haunted Russia, but she did not escape tragedy—the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two brothers, aunts and uncles, and a lover twice her age, deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father.
As she gradually learned about the extent of her father's brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States—leaving her two children behind. But although she was never a part of her father's regime, she could not escape his legacy. Her life in America was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles, and ultimately died in poverty in Wisconsin.
With access to KGB, CIA, and Soviet government archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana's daughter, Rosemary Sullivan pieces together Svetlana's incredible life in a masterful account of unprecedented intimacy. Epic in scope, it's a revolutionary biography of a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father's name. Sullivan explores a complicated character in her broader context without ever losing sight of her powerfully human story, in the process opening a closed, brutal world that continues to fascinate us.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Insightful and thoroughly researched

I enjoyed this book and learned so much about the early years of the USSR and Stalin’s family. I am always appalled every time I read the numbers of death in Russia from the famine in the 1930 to the number of dead in WWII.

Svetlana grew up in the Kremlin surrounded by adoring relatives, governesses and tutors. Her mother committed suicide when she was 6 years old. Svetlana was born in 1926; she lived through the purges, war and the disappearances of most of her relatives into gulags. Her first love, Aleksey Kaples was sent to a labor camp when Stalin learned of their courtship. Her half brother Yaakov, with whom she was close, died in a German P. O. W. camp after Stalin refused a prisoner of war exchange. I was most interested in Svetlana’s meeting with Winston Churchill when he came to meet with Stalin during WWII. Churchill noted her red hair and told her he had also been a redhead when he was young.

In 1967, fourteen years after Stalin’s death, Svetlana defected to the United States. Her life reads like a clock and dagger suspense spy thriller. She had three children from three of her four failed marriages, published several books, made money and lost it. She moved constantly unable to stay in one place very long. She died at age 85, nearly destitute in Wisconsin under the name of Lana Peters. I found her comments about Putin most interesting and that she thought the United States was most naïve about Russia.

Rosemary Sullivan is an eminent biographer. I enjoyed her biography of Margaret Atwood. The book is well researched, and Sullivan maintains a neutral view of the troubled life of Svetlana. Sullivan allows the reader the freedom of their own interpretation. The book is fairly long at 20 hours; Karen Cass does a good job narrating the story.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

The most famous Soviet defector.

If you could sum up Stalin's Daughter in three words, what would they be?

An excellent biography.

What other book might you compare Stalin's Daughter to and why?

I can think of no comparison to make.

What aspect of Karen Cass’s performance would you have changed?

Having another narrator intirely.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Poor Svetlana went through so much in her life.

Any additional comments?


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- brian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-02-2015
  • Publisher: HarperAudio