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The horror of the Soviet Union under Stalin is something that must be made known. This book has done a lot to bring this reality to the fore. My only criticism is that this is an abridged version and in some ways seemed a bit disjointed. John Nettles renders a good narrative and I will certainly be encouraged to listen to anything else he might read.
I have been listening to this for about 6 hours and am finding it thoroughly enjoyable. The story is woven so as to include both descriptions of Stalin's actions and psyche, as well as those of the individuals surrounding him and the historical period in which they all lived. The result is a rich narrative that really brings the listener (or reader) into that period. Be warned that it is just that, a narrative.
The problem of course is that names of soviet 'celebrities' are thrown about as if the listener is already acquainted with them. Luckily I know most of the names, but I can imagine the story could get unwieldy for those without some background knowledge. Having read any general text on Stalin's rule should serve that purpose.
This is a well written and performed account of the Stalin era purges.
That said, it is a bit grim and relentless - as you might expect from the subject matter, but unlike (say) ancient history, these events feel closer to home due to their relative recency.
Be warned, that , while not described in particularly gory terms , the real life events outlined are tough to hear about.
John Nettles is excellent at narrating the book and it is well laid out....
...but in the end, the unremitting grimness as yet another person (or million people) is purged rather detracts and you may find yourself, like me, not wishing to listen any more.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
It is said that history is written by the victors of wars and certainly the crimes perpetrated by Stalin and his repressive regime took years to be revealed. I was aware that Stalin’s policies had caused the deaths of many millions of his citizens and that he easily equalled Hitler in his heinous crimes. However, this outstanding and engrossing biography of Stalin’s reign of terror was a revelation to me as it documented his extreme paranoia and at times bungling incompetence and how he got away with it by keeping his acolytes in a state of fear that they would too would be executed on trumped up charges. I hadn’t realised the sheer scale of reprisals against those who served with him and their families. It must have been a frightening time to be near this despot. It’s depressing that history keeps repeating itself and how how uncurbed power in the end corrupts.
The book is a great listen as pacy as a crime thriller and the narrator is good.
10 of 13 people found this review helpful
Not a big fan of the author who writes history with no new evidence or analysis to add to an already great number of similar books.
But this passed the time ok.
Not exceptional or ground breaking, more written for a popular audience and mass market than someone serious about history. However enjoyed more than the Romanovs.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
loved it a very thought provocing and interesting insight into a disturbing person from history