Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

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9780752866024: Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

There have been many biographies of Stalin, but the court that surrounded him is untravelled ground. Simon Sebag Montefiore, acclaimed biographer of Catherine the Great and her lover, prime minister and general Potemkin, has unearthed the vast underpinning that sustained Stalin. Not only ministers such as Molotov or secret service chiefs such as Beria, but men and women whose loyalty he trusted only until the next purge.Read by John Nettles

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From the Inside Flap :

Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes–as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag–has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin's reign are well known, this remarkable biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation–human, psychological and physical–that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him.

In a seamless meshing of exhaustive research, brilliant synthesis and narrative élan, Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the life and lives of Stalin's court from the time of his acclamation as "leader" in 1929, five years after Lenin's death, until his own death in 1953 at the age of seventy-three. Through the lens of personality–Stalin's as well as those of his most notorious henchmen, Molotov, Beria and Yezhov among them–the author sheds new light on the oligarchy that attempted to create a new world by exterminating the old. He gives us the details of their quotidian and monstrous lives: Stalin's favorites in music, movies, literature (Hemmingway, The Forsyte Saga and The Last of the Mohicans were at the top of his list), food and history (he took Ivan the Terrible as his role model and swore by Lenin's dictum, "A revolution without firing squads is meaningless"). We see him among his courtiers, his informal but deadly game of power played out at dinners and parties at Black Sea villas and in the apartments of the Kremlin. We see the debauchery, paranoia and cravenness that ruled the lives of Stalin's inner court, and we see how the dictator played them one against the other in order to hone the awful efficiency of his killing machine.

With stunning attention to detail, Montefiore documents the crimes, small and large, of all the members of Stalin's court. And he traces the intricate and shifting web of their relationships as the relative warmth of Stalin's rule in the early 1930s gives way to the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the upheaval of World War II (there has never been as acute an account of Stalin's meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt) and the horrific postwar years when he terrorized his closest associates as unrelentingly as he did the rest of his country.

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar gives an unprecedented understanding of Stalin's dictatorship, and, as well, a Stalin as human and complicated as he is brutal. It is a galvanizing portrait: razor-sharp, sensitive and unforgiving.

About the Author :

Born in 1965 Simon Sebag Montefiore is a biographer, novelist and journalist. He contributes to The Sunday Times, The Spectator and The New York Republic and New York Times in the USA. In the early nineties he travelled through the turbulent ex-Soviet Caucasus and Central Asia and in 1996 presented a Channel 4 documentary on his 2000 mile desert quest for slavery in Mauritania. He now lives in London with his wife, Santa, nee Palmer-Tomkinson, and one child. His first biography, Prince of Princes: the Life of Potemkin was a huge success in hardback and paperback. John Nettles was born in St Austell, Cornwall. He studied philosophy and history at Southampton University where he also acted in drama society productions. He was there spotted by an agent who arranged for him to work at the Royal Court theatre - though that did not stop him teaching in London for a while. Before 'Midsomer Murders' he was best known for his role as Sergeant Jim Bergerac, in the long-running television series Bergerac. Other TV appearances. ranging from comedy to serious drama, include A Family at War, Black Beauty, The Liver Birds, Dickens of London and The Merchant of Venice. But he has never forgotten his stage origins, where again his range is unusually wide: he has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company, yet plays pantomime most years. Orion Audio invited him to read Stalin because of his magnificent audiobook reading of George Orwell's 1984.

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Sebag Montefiore, Simon
ISBN 10 : 0752866028 ISBN 13 : 9780752866024
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ISBN 10 : 0752866028 ISBN 13 : 9780752866024
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