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Publisher's Summary

Granted privileged access to Russia's secret archives, Edvard Radzinsky has broken down the iron curtain of myth, secrecy, and lies that has surrounded Stalin's life and career, painting a picture of the Soviet strongman as more calculating, ruthless, and blood-crazed than has ever been imagined; a man for whom power was all, terror a useful weapon, and deceit a constant companion. Radzinsky uncovers the startling truth about this most enigmatic of historical figures. Only now, in the post-Soviet era, can what was suppressed be told: Stalin's long-denied involvement with terrorism as a young revolutionary; the real story of how he mangled his left arm; the crucial importance of his role during the October Revolution; his often hostile relationship with Lenin; the details of his organization of terror, culminating in the infamous show trials of the 1930s; his secret dealings with Hitler, and how they backfired; and the horrifying plans he had to send the Soviet Union's Jews to concentration camps, tantamount to a potential second Holocaust. Radzinsky also takes an intimate look at Stalin's private life, and his turbulent relationship with his wife Nadezhda, recreating the circumstances that led to her suicide. Finally, Radzinsky discovers one of Stalin's elite bodyguards, who breaks 40 years of silence to give the strongest evidence yet of the conspiracy behind Stalin's death.
The Kremlin intrigues, the private worlds of the Soviet Empire's ruling class, Radzinsky thrillingly brings them to life. And the riddle of that most cold-blooded of leaders, a man for whom nothing was sacred in his pursuit of absolute might, and perhaps the greatest mass murderer in Western history, is solved.
(P)1996 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Moon Man on 05-01-05

A Great Book About a Great Tyrant

I have been a periodic reader of Soviet history for the past three decades. With the opening of the various secret Soviet archives to certain researchers came the possiblity of better understanding of that which had only been speculated in the past, the "back-story" history of the revolution and the coming to power of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and the succession of Koba Stalin. Prior to Radzinsky's book, I had read Dmitri Volkogonov's definitive history - STALIN: TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY. Radzinsky's book brings, I believe, a more coherant and understandble story of Stalin's rise. Which author, Volkogonov or Radzinsky, is more correct in their presentation of Stalin? I cannot say. For the most part, their stories are complementary. I found Radzinsky to be more readable, more organized. This is an excellent book which I recommend highly to those interested in Soviet history.

Now, about David McCallum's narration of this book: Brilliant. I have neaver heard a more perfect match of a book with a narrator. The pace, the phrasing, the nuance, the innuendo built into the reading was excellent. I was so impressed by McCallum's reading that I had hoped to find other historical volumes narrated by him. I'm sorry to say that I found only novels.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Matt on 06-18-05

Great Narration

The narrator is tremendous. As another reviewer mentioned, his voice is perfect this book. He really captures the evil, deception, and debauchery of the times. He is slightly British sounding.

This is overall a good, interesting, and revealing book about Stalin. However, the reader/listener should be aware that at times Radzinsky takes a position that is not widespread. A few example are: Stalin was preparing to start for World War 3, his breakdown during WWII was just an act to test the loyalty of his cohorts, Stalin was not surprised by the German attack in 1941, and Stalin was planning to attack Germany before they attacked him. Radzinsky builds his case for his interpretations often times on circumstantial evidence or something someone told him. I am no expert on the subjects, so I can't say he is wrong. I just know that based on my other readings of Stalin, some of his assertions are not widely held.

The abridged audio version focuses mostly on the Bolsheviek's rise to power, Stalin's rise to power, the Great Terror of the late 1930's, World War II, and the terror and purges after the war.

Overall, highly recommended, just beware of a few of Radzinsky's uncommon interpretations.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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