Good books on Stalin

Discussions on books and other reference material on the WW1, Inter-War or WW2 as well as the authors. Hosted by Andy H.
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Nicolas7507
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by Nicolas7507 » 12 Feb 2023 16:24

DT-SC wrote:
12 Feb 2023 15:46
Antonov’s book is completely outdated. It was written without access to archives and now is interesting only as historical artifact
Thanks! Which one would you recommend? I think of getting Deutscher.

J. Duncan
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by J. Duncan » 12 Feb 2023 16:36

Antonov-Osveyenko’s book on Stalin was interesting but only because his father was a famous Bolshevik from 1917 and Civil War which is why I got it (I was looking for more for info about him than Stalin). He was later purged and shot and the son writes from the bias of one of millions of victims.
Many of the older bios (Deutscher included) were written way before the end of the System in ‘91 before the opening of archives to western scholars.
Best book I’ve read on Stalin was Dmitri Volkogonov’s which others have also praised. It’s not a standard bio chronologically but the glimpses into the shades and nuances of Stalin’s life and rule make for fascinating reading. His books on Lenin and Trotsky are equally superb. He’s Russian, a military man and was one of the first to gain access to these archives.

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Nicolas7507
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by Nicolas7507 » 12 Feb 2023 17:42

Thank you very much! Excellent recommendations as always!
For Lenin I bought Shub recently. Quite old but I read good things about the book?

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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by J. Duncan » 12 Feb 2023 19:12

Shub was one of my first books on Lenin! It’s a decent book and pretty cheap used. Pay attention for “Kamo” (Ter-Petrosyan sic) , Stalin’s bandit buddy from the Caucasus. This guy was a fanatic, similar to the Islamic terrorists of today. I think he got captured in Germany and feigned mental illness in an asylum for a year or two. Shub talks about him at length.

DT-SC
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by DT-SC » 12 Feb 2023 19:45

The best two biographies of Stalin which were written on contemporary level by actual historians and using archive materials are 1) Oleg Khlevniuk Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator and 2) ongoing multi-volume biography by Stephen Kotkin. Sebag Montefiore’s books are a good read but more on pop non-fiction side. Deutscher is well written but is heavily biased by author’s political views and without knowing actual facts. Volkogonov is also biased by political agenda of the times when this book has first appeared in Russia. It is always helpful to keep in mind that Volkogonov was a Soviet general, and a deputy head of Political Directorate of Soviet Army, politruk

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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by Mikko H. » 13 Feb 2023 12:46

I also recommend Kotkin's work. So far two volumes of the trilogy have appeared, taking the story up to the start of the Barbarossa.

Kotkin is not uncontroversial, and I don't always agree with his analysis, but those are minor thinggs beside the sheer breadth and depth of his work.

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Nicolas7507
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by Nicolas7507 » 13 Feb 2023 23:00

Gentlemen, you have been a big help. Thank you!

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Nicolas7507
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by Nicolas7507 » 24 Sep 2023 10:50

Any comments about The Unknown Stalin by the Medvedev brothers?

DT-SC
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by DT-SC » 24 Sep 2023 14:36

It was originally written back in the 60-ties when Medvedevs were part of the dissidents movement back in USSR. It is more of a passionate anti-Stalin manifest than work of a professional historian. Also written based on oral stories which were circulating in Soviet Union back then, not on archival documents. Completely obsolete by now.

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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by J. Duncan » 24 Sep 2023 16:34

Here is a book I think is a must have for those who collect books on Stalin. Miklos Kun “Stalin: An Unknown Portrait”.
Large, thick ,coffee table size book loaded with rare photographs front to back with much minutiae on his life, career, habits, and associates.
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Re: Good books on Stalin

Post by DT-SC » 24 Sep 2023 20:54

If you are looking for a coffee table picture book, then yes, if you are looking for history book then no. It is somewhat similar to the aforementioned Medvedevs book: oral histories and anecdotes, written from a very personal perspective.

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