Commencez à lire Young Stalin (English Edition) sur votre Kindle dans moins d'une minute. Vous n'avez pas encore de Kindle ? Achetez-le ici Ou commencez à lire dès maintenant avec l'une de nos applications de lecture Kindle gratuites.

Envoyer sur votre Kindle ou un autre appareil

 
 
 

Essai gratuit

Découvrez gratuitement un extrait de ce titre

Envoyer sur votre Kindle ou un autre appareil

Tout le monde peut lire les livres Kindle, même sans un appareil Kindle, grâce à l'appli Kindle GRATUITE pour les smartphones, les tablettes et les ordinateurs.
Young Stalin (English Edition)
 
Agrandissez cette image
 

Young Stalin (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Prix éditeur - format imprimé : EUR 13,28
Prix Kindle : EUR 8,49 TTC & envoi gratuit via réseau sans fil par Amazon Whispernet
Économisez : EUR 4,79 (36%)





Les clients ayant acheté cet article ont également acheté


Descriptions du produit

Extrait

PROLOGUE: The Bank Robbery

At 10:30 a.m. on the sultry morning of Wednesday, 26 June 1907, in the seething central square of Tiflis, a dashing mustachioed cavalry captain in boots and jodhpurs, wielding a big Circassian sabre, performed tricks on horseback, joking with two pretty, well-dressed Georgian girls who twirled gaudy parasols–while fingering Mauser pistols hidden in their dresses.

Raffish young men in bright peasant blouses and wide sailor-style trousers waited on the street corners, cradling secreted revolvers and grenades. At the louche Tilipuchuri Tavern on the square, a crew of heavily armed gangsters took over the cellar bar, gaily inviting passers-by to join them for drinks. All of them were waiting to carry out the first exploit by Josef Djugashvili, aged twenty-nine, later known as Stalin, to win the attention of the world.[1]

Few outside the gang knew of the plan that day for a criminal terrorist “spectacular,” but Stalin had worked on it for months. One man who did know the broad plan was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party,[2] hiding in a villa in Kuokola, Finland, far to the north. Days earlier, in Berlin, and then in London, Lenin had secretly met with Stalin to order the big heist, even though their Social-Democratic Party had just strictly banned all “expropriations,” the euphemism for bank robberies. But Stalin’s operations, heists and killings, always conducted with meticulous attention to detail and secrecy, had made him the “main financier of the Bolshevik Centre.”[3]

The events that day would make headlines all over the globe, literally shake Tiflis to its foundations, and further shatter the fragmented Social-Democrats into warring factions: that day would both make Stalin’s career and almost ruin it–a watershed in his life.

In Yerevan Square, the twenty brigands who formed the core of Stalin’s gang, known as “the Outfit,” took up positions as their lookouts peered down Golovinsky Prospect, Tiflis’s elegant main street, past the white Italianate splendour of the Viceroy’s Palace. They awaited the clatter of a stagecoach and its squadron of galloping Cossacks. The army captain with the Circassian sabre caracoled on his horse before dismounting to stroll the fashionable boulevard.

Every street corner was guarded by a Cossack or policeman: the authorities were ready. Something had been expected since January. The informers and agents of the Tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, and his uniformed political police, the Gendarmes, delivered copious reports about the clandestine plots and feuds of the gangs of revolutionaries and criminals. In the misty twilight of this underground, the worlds of bandit and terrorist had merged and it was hard to tell tricks from truth. But there had been “chatter” about a “spectacular”–as today’s intelligence experts would put it–for months.

On that dazzling steamy morning, the Oriental colour of Tiflis (now Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia) hardly seemed to belong to the same world as the Tsar’s capital, St. Petersburg, a thousand miles away. The older streets, without running water or electricity, wound up the slopes of Mtatsminda, Holy Mountain, until they were impossibly steep, full of crookedly picturesque houses weighed down with balconies, entwined with old vines. Tiflis was a big village where everyone knew everyone else.

Just behind the military headquarters, on genteel Freilinskaya Street, a stone’s throw from the square, lived Stalin’s wife, a pretty young Georgian dressmaker named Kato Svanidze, and their newborn son, Yakov. Theirs was a true love match: despite his black moods, Stalin was devoted to Kato, who admired and shared his revolutionary fervour. As she sunned herself and the baby on her balcony, her husband was about to give her, and Tiflis itself, an unholy shock.

This intimate city was the capital of the Caucasus, the Tsar’s wild, mountainous viceroyalty between the Black and the Caspian Seas, a turbulent region of fierce and feuding peoples. Golovinsky Prospect seemed Parisian in its elegance. White neo-classical theatres, a Moorish-style opera house, grand hotels and the palaces of Georgian princes and Armenian oil barons lined the street, but, as one passed the military headquarters, Yerevan Square opened up into an Asiatic potpourri.

Exotically dressed hawkers and stalls offered spicy Georgian lobio beans and hot khachapuri cheesecake. Water-carriers, street-traders, pickpockets and porters delivered to or stole from the Armenian and Persian Bazaars, the alleyways of which more resembled a Levantine souk than a European city. Caravans of camels and donkeys, loaded with silks and spices from Persia and Turkestan, fruit and wineskins from the lush Georgian countryside, ambled through the gates of the Caravanserai. Its young waiters and errand boys served its clientele of guests and diners, carrying in the bags, unharnessing the camels–and watching the square. Now we know from the newly opened Georgian archives that Stalin, Faginlike, used the Caravanserai boys as a prepubescent revolutionary street intelligence and courier service. Meanwhile in one of the Caravanserai’s cavernous backrooms, the chief gangsters gave their gunmen a pep talk, rehearsing the plan one last time. Stalin himself was there that morning.

The two pretty teenage girls with twirling umbrellas and loaded revolvers, Patsia Goldava and Anneta Sulakvelidze, “brown-haired, svelte, with black eyes that expressed youth,” casually sashayed across the square to stand outside the military headquarters, where they flirted with Russian officers, Gendarmes in smart blue uniforms, and bowlegged Cossacks.

Tiflis was–and still is–a languid town of strollers and boulevardiers who frequently stop to drink wine at the many open-air taverns: if the showy, excitable Georgians resemble any other European people, it is the Italians. Georgians and other Caucasian men, in traditional chokha–their skirted long coats lined down the chest with bullet pouches–swaggered down the streets, singing loudly. Georgian women in black headscarves, and the wives of Russian officers in European fashions, promenaded through the gates of the Pushkin Gardens, buying ices and sherbet alongside Persians and Armenians, Chechens, Abkhaz and Mountain Jews, in a fancy-dress jamboree of hats and costumes.

Gangs of street urchins–kintos–furtively scanned the crowds for scams. Teenage trainee priests, in long white surplices, were escorted by their berobed, bearded priest-teachers from the pillared white seminary across the street, where Stalin had almost qualified as a priest nine years earlier. This un-Slavic, un-Russian and ferociously Caucasian kaleidoscope of East and West was the world that nurtured Stalin.

Checking the time, the girls Anneta and Patsia parted, taking up new positions on either side of the square. On Palace Street, the dubious clientele of the notorious Tilipuchuri Tavern–princes, pimps, informers and pickpockets–were already drinking Georgian wine and Armenian brandy, not far from the plutocratic grandeur of Prince Sumbatov’s palace.

Just then David Sagirashvili, another revolutionary who knew Stalin and some of the gangsters, visited a friend who owned a shop above the tavern and was invited in by the cheerful brigand at the doorway, Bachua Kupriashvili, who “immediately offered me a chair and a glass of red wine, according to the Georgian custom.” David drank the wine and was about to leave when the gunman suggested “with exquisite politeness” that he stay inside and “sample more snacks and wine.” David realized that “they were letting people into the restaurant but would not let them out. Armed individuals stood at the door.”

Spotting the convoy galloping down the boulevard, Patsia Goldava, the slim brunette on lookout, sped round the corner to the Pushkin Gardens where she waved her newspaper to Stepko Intskirveli, waiting by the gate.

“We’re off!” he muttered.

Stepko nodded at Anneta Sulakvelidze, who was across the street just outside the Tilipuchuri, where she made a sign summoning the others from the bar. The gunmen in the doorway beckoned them. “At a given signal” Sagirashvili saw the brigands in the tavern put down their drinks, cock their pistols and head out, spreading across the square–thin, consumptive young men in wide trousers who had barely eaten for weeks. Some were gangsters, some desperadoes and some, typically for Georgia, were poverty-stricken princes from roofless, wall-less castles in the provinces. If their deeds were criminal, they cared nothing for money: they were devoted to Lenin, the Party and their puppet-master in Tiflis, Stalin.

“The functions of each of us had been planned in advance,” remembered a third girl in the gang, Alexandra Darakhvelidze, just nineteen, a friend of Anneta, and already veteran of a spree of heists and shootouts.

The gangsters each covered the square’s policemen–the gorodovoi, known in the streets as pharaohs. Two gunmen marked the Cossacks outside the City Hall; the rest made their way to the corner of Velyaminov Street and the Armenian Bazaar, not far from the State Bank itself. Alexandra Darakhvelidze, in her unpublished memoirs, recalled guarding one of the street corners with two gunmen.

Now Bachua Kupriashvili, nonchalantly pretending to read a newspaper, spotted in the distance the cloud of dust thrown up by the horses’ hooves. They were coming! Bachua rolled up his newspaper, poised . . . The cavalry captain with the flashing sabre, who had been promenading the square, now warned passers-by to stay out of it, but when no one paid any attention he jumped back onto his fine hor...

From Publishers Weekly

Russian historian and author Montefiore presents an exciting, exemplary biography of the nondescript peasant boy who would become the most ruthless leader in Soviet history, a prequel of sorts to his Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Born in 1878 in the Caucasus of Georgia to an overprotective mother (who had already lost two sons) and a father opposed to education ("I'm a shoemaker and my son will be one too"), Stalin possessed a talent for poetry and mischief. Amidst his mom's trysts (with men she hoped would further Stalin's education), his father's alcohol-fueled violence and the powder-keg environment of the Caucasus, Stalin turned from priesthood training to gang life and petty crime. As he grew, so did his hatred of Tsarist Russia, leading him to meet the initial Bolsheviks, and to more spectacular and violent capers. From the start, Stalin proved a remarkable talent for meticulous planning, a skill that would become vital to the revolutionaries and, later, to his iron-fisted reign. Using recently opened records, Montefiore turns up intriguing new information (like the "Fagin-like" role he played among "a prepubescent revolutionary street intelligence" network), Montefiore captures in an absorbing narrative both Stalin's conflicted character-marked by powerful charisma and deep paranoia-and the revolution's early years with stunning clarity.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1189 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 442 pages
  • Editeur : Phoenix; Édition : Reprinted Edition (27 mai 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003NE5TZ6
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°121.424 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
  •  Souhaitez-vous faire modifier les images ?


En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Découvrez des livres, informez-vous sur les écrivains, lisez des blogs d'auteurs et bien plus encore.

Commentaires en ligne 

Il n'y a pas encore de commentaires clients sur Amazon.fr
5 étoiles
4 étoiles
3 étoiles
2 étoiles
1 étoiles
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  83 commentaires
59 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A vivid picture of Stalin's turbulent youth 16 octobre 2007
Par Graham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Montefiore paints a very vivid picture of Stalin's youth, providing a comprehensive narrative from his birth in Georgia to his rise to power as a member of the inner circle of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. He shows a youthful Stalin who was variously a seminary student, a star choirboy, a proud Georgian poet and a rabble-rousing Marxist fanatic. He shows his development as an undercover party leader, including his role as an organizer of bank robberies and extortions, and emphasizes his early ruthlessness in organizing the executions of "traitors". He explores the different facets of Stalin's life as a Siberian exile, an escapee, a charming philanderer, and an absentee father. And finally he shows the rising Bolshevik leader: a founder of Pravda, one of Lenin's most trusted lieutenants, ruthless and pragmatic, who could be relied on to do the dirty work, and who was already one of the innermost circle when the Bolsheviks seized power.

Montefiore uses a variety of materials, but especially unpublished memoirs from Stalin's early friends and colleagues newly available in the Georgian communist party archives. Material from these was sometimes used in the official Stalinist biographies, but anything that deviated from the official dull accounts was quietly buried. Montefiore explains that both Stalin and Trotsky were eager to obscure Stalin's early life: Trotsky wished to belittle him as a mere party bureaucrat, while Stalin feared that his unruly past would be an obstacle as he moved towards supreme power. Montefiore acknowledges the difficulties in assessing the accuracy of the various memoirs, but observes that there are enough different accounts (and also independent accounts from refugees in the West) that even if we can't be sure of all the details, the overall picture seems sound.

In Montefiore's portrayal, one striking aspect of Stalin's youth is that he was genuinely immersed in a world of treachery and betrayal. A wanted man, always on the run, several times betrayed and captured due to Tsarist double agents deep in the Bolshevik leadership, he was right to be distrustful and paranoid. At this time in Stalin's life there really were traitors everywhere.

Overall, this is a fascinating account of a wild young revolutionary daredevil. But probably its greatest value is in providing insights towards the underlying strengths and weaknesses of the later General Secretary Stalin. We see his considerable personal charm and his vast capacity for organization. But we also see his cynicism, his mistrustfulness, and his willingness to use force and terror as everyday tactics.
73 internautes sur 83 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Definitely not a "grey blur" 19 octobre 2007
Par Antonio - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book gave me back my faith in the art of biography, that something new can be found about even the most heavily referenced figures. Although I've read many Stalin biographies, in most of them the Vozhd's early years failed to come into focus. We learned little about the family other than papa Beso's drunken brutality and about mama Keke's resourcefulness and pride.

Yet, even in this most studied of lives, there is plenty of gold to be found by those who know where to look. Montefiore takes us back to the almost Mediterranean splendor of the Caucasus, a land of fierce feuds and vendette, of revolutionary nobles and passionate women, where everything (the weather, the clothing, the food, the tempers) is as un-Russian as can be. Stalin was definitely a Caucasian. He was proud and violent, but also very sharp and able to behave with unexpected generosity. He was extremely bright and amazingly well read. It is easy to see why Stalin was offended by the poet Mandelstam's celebrated line in his "Ode to Stalin", about "His fat fingers" "slimy like slugs". Stalin surely regarded himself as an intellectual and this description as a dim-witted vulgarian could only wound him deeply. In his pictures as a young man he is curiously good looking, and one can imagine the attraction this bright young rebel might have had for all sorts of women. In this Stalin was very unlike Hitler, for whom fleshly pleasures were repellent, and rather like Mussolini who was to the end a ladies' man.

Stalin's friends come alive in this book. Sure, they felt no compunction about cutting an enemy's throat, or blowing up an oil refinery, or bombing a police station, but they were also able to have fun, to drink, to joke, perhaps like many rebels of our day. It is to me a mistery how such a fanatic as Stalin, whose faith in revolutionary communism was boundless, could also enjoy all sorts of social and physical pleasures. Perhaps the explanation might be in his mother's example. Keke Geladze, as religious a woman as ever lived, was not above drinking or taking up lovers.

Stalin's environment also becomes completely understandable. Georgia was also much like the American far West, a violent borderland where strong men imposed their will on others and insults where washed away in blood. Many Georgian notables supported the rebels not because they sympathised with socialism but because they saw them as nationalists fighting against the Russian invaders. It is a tragedy that Stalin ordered the murder of so many of his former backers, and that he came, in time, to be even more Russian than the Tsar ever was. Far from being a social outsider, in Georgia Stalin was known to everyone in his hometown, and he was very close to the local nobility, magnates, clergy, intellectuals and criminals. Stalin was uniquely Georgian, which might explain to some extent his current popularity there.

These are just a few of the surprises this book has in store. It includes several surprisingly good poems by Stalin as a young man. It is a pity that in later years he would dedicate himself to writing leaden treatises on subjects such as linguistics, when in fact he was a light, luminous poet. It has some wonderful pictures of a few of the Vozhd's girlfriends, and they are also surprisingly good looking. But its greatest triumph is that it shows how Josif-Soso-Koba-Ivanovitch became Stalin. You take a boy of many gifts (bright, curious, brave, strong) and with a few but very great defects (proud, spiteful, fanatical) and subject him to violence and brutality during his early years, then allow him to develop his intellect while leaving his morality stunted, place him in an environment where he might become a negative leader without being punished for it, add in social ferment and revolution in the air, and then a mighty conflagration. The boy is father to the man. Stalin was not a wolf or a beast in human shape, as many said, he was just that same boy Soso, but now inmeasurably powerful, and with history on his side. The son of a cobbler and a washing woman ended up as one of the two most powerful men in the world.

Stalin's enemies dismissed him as "the man who missed the Revolution", "a grey blur", a nonentity who sidelined Lenin's true heirs through bureaucratic wiles. But although he was a terrorist and a sociopath since youth, Stalin was no "grey blur": he was one of the most fascinating personalities yet encountered, a colourful bundle of contradictions, intellectual and man of action, womanizer and ascetic, political fanatic and cynical pragmatist. Far from having usurped a role reserved to other revolutionaries such as Trotski or Bukharin, Stalin was Lenin's true heir, which is not meant to be a praise. Lenin admired Stalin precisely because of his ruthlesness and obduracy rather than in spite of them. One doesn't need to be sympathetic to Stalin or to Communism to enjoy this, a brilliant book, with enormous cinematic potential. It begs to be made into a movie.
20 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A very impressive work 1 novembre 2007
Par Mark Greenbaum - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I came away from "Young Stalin" very impressed. The author has done a superb job of constructing Josef Stalin's life story from his birth to his initial rise at the start of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. I can't remember being as impressed with a book's research as I was with this book. There is a wealth of information on Stalin's early life -- a period that has never been written about in such great detail -- tapped from hundreds of new sources and revealed in fascinating text. Even if you're not terribly interested in Stalin's life -- I wasn't -- you will find this book interesting, as Stalin's early life was one adventure after another.

The book begins by discussing Stalin's birth to a tough-minding, loving mother and an alcoholic father in a town in Georgia as dirt-poor as anything imaginable. From there, Stalin excelled in school, and nearly became a priest, but was ironically driven away by excessively strict priests at his school, running right into the arms of the revolutionary beliefs that were taking the world by storm at the end of the 19th Century. It was at this point that Stalin's life really began to take shape. From there, Stalin became a shadowy figure in the underground, specializing in everything from arch-conspirator, to bank robber extraordinaire, to extortionist, to intelligence specialist, to counter-intelligence expert, to even murderer. Using his dark intelligence, over time Stalin became the key problem-solver for Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, helping rid the party of spies -- both real and imagined -- and planning and executing the bank robberies which would fund Lenin and his fledging Bolshevik Party in its early days.

Between the events shaping Stalin's rise, the author does a brilliant job in discussing and highlighting many of the more "colorful" events in his young life. These events include Stalin's many, many affairs and several illegitimate children, how his amazing calmness and coldness allowed him to intimidate or control countless lackies nearly all of whom he later discarded, how he survived astonishingly brutal stretches of exile in Siberia, in particular a four year stretch on the Artic Circle in an area that is closer to being a hellhole that any other place imaginable, his many escapes from bumbling Tsarist police, and many other great tales. The author's writing is sharp and lively, and he well bolsters these and other stories with copious amounts of starred-* notes at the bottom nearly every page providing details of forgotten stories. Specifically, I loved how the author would tell what later became of the hundreds of people who Stalin came across in his youth; not surprisingly, nearly all of them despite often strong loyalty, were later imprisoned and/or killed by Stalin once he became supreme leader of the country. While the author acknowledges time and again what an astonishing brute and killer Stalin would later become, he does so with kind of a bemusement. Indeed, while it is easier to slap that label on Hitler because he was such a cold-hearted martinet, it is tougher with Stalin simply because he had so much personality, charisma, and wit! He really was a fascinating figure. As I noted above, the author has constructed such a sharp look at Stalin by tapping dozens of unpublished memoirs of former associates and friends of Stalin, many of whom he later forgot or destroyed.

After finishing this book, I was struck by what a mystery Stalin was, and continues to be. While the book well captures his ferocity, brilliance, zealotry, taste for young girls, lack of loyalty to even his closest friends, cold heart, and difficult upbringing, I think the author well encapsulates Stalin when, near the end, he simply calls him "weird". Despite possessing strong intelligence, a loving mother, and many loyal friends and colleagues, he was a thug who reveled in violence and mayhem, and when he became leader, he liquidated even his closest allies. The reason he became that man? Well, that's impossible to say, even with this great book. Needless to say that his cold heart made it easier for him to treat people so poorly and always possess the view that human life had almost no value.

This is a very impressive book. I'm not trying to repeat myself, I just came away with that feeling. The book does not tackle the heady diplomatic and war decisions in Stalin's later life -- those are in the author's other book on Stalin -- but focuses on his early life and many of the fascinating gossipy elements that aren't widely known. It's a little long (nearly 400 pages), but an easy and fun read. If you're a student of any history, it is well worth your time.

Five stars.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Yes, it 's history! 26 novembre 2007
Par H. H. Verveer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Simon Sebag Montefiore has a habit, by his pedestrian ways, of annoying not just the historian, but perhaps also the more intellectual kind of reader. And he does so not just by selling more books than his collegues. In his new book on Stalin Montefiore can't resist temptation, opening with a bankrobbery and describing it in glowing terms. Since the rest of Young Stalin is strictly chronological, and the robbery takes place in 1907, this is a deliberate choice. It's Hollywood, not history. Montefiore talks about `heists', `glamourpussy's' and `spooks'. Richard Lourie, writing a piece for the New York Times is scathing about Montefiore. Remarking upon how Djugashvili became Stalin, he writes: "You won't find out here. Simon Sebag Montefiore, the author of "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar," is not one historian but two. The first is capable of serious research and insight, but he is eclipsed by the second, who sees history as scandal and its writing as gossip. Vanity Fair goes to Lubyanka." Orlando Figes writes, in the New York Review (Rise of a Gangster): `Young Stalin' is not without its weaknesses. Scholars may have reservations about its occcasional lapses into semifictional narrative, while others may be driven mad by the endnotes, from which in many cases it is virtually impossible to find the sources for quotations in the text."
Although it seems to me that Figes is more rational than Lourie, there is a lot of truth in these observations. When I started reading his first volume on Stalin (Court of the Red Tsar), I felt the same way. I was irritated by the tone and by the novellistic approach. And I felt again, exactly the same way, when I started in Young Stalin, more so even, probably because of the unnecessary heist (sorry) at te beginning. But in the end you surrender: you just have to start admiring the immense amount of detectivework, the investigation of numerous sources, the detailed and very factual approach. Montefiore may be seduced by his own story, but he tells it very well. His research is terrific, but so is his style. And I find it silly to complain that Montefiore is so busy "glamourizing his hero" (Lourie) that there is no insight left. That isn't true. The enormous amount of facts that Montefiore presents, is chilling enough. And is it, after having read Kearshaw on Hitler, possible to tell how the young man became the dictator? The best thing to hope for is that a biography gives you the facts. The rest is mystery. In the end you can only - like Figes does in the New York Review - admire the book, which ends in 1917. And since Court of the Red Tsar begins, more or less, in 1932, there are 15 more years to hope for.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 From Soso to Stalin 29 février 2008
Par P.K. Ryan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:CD|Achat vérifié
Attention all historians! This is the way that history should be written. Simon Sebag Montefiore's magnificent chronicle of Stalin's early years is easily one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable historical biographies that I have ever read. Montefiore has proven to be both an assiduous researcher, as well as a masterful storyteller. Some reviewers have accused Montefiore of being too sensationalistic and novelistic. I call it vivid, descriptive storytelling of the highest caliber. I could actually visualize the scenes in my head as he was describing them. Remember that excruciatingly leaden college professor whose lectures you dreaded sitting through, that tiresome mathematician in historian's clothing? That is the type who will surely be annoyed by this book, although anyone with half a pulse will find it to be a superlative exercise in biographic history. For Pete's sake, the reason I like history is because it is the study of animate objects; people, places, events, etc. It is adventurous, and when done rightly, like Montefiore here, it can truly inspire. Witness the style:

"So this is not just a biography, but the chronicle of their milieu, a pre-history of the USSR itself, a study of the subterranean worm and the silent chrysalis before it hatched the steel winged butterfly."

Born in 1879 as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, the man who would become known as Stalin, was known throughout his childhood and youth as Soso. Young Soso was born and raised in the industrial Georgian town of Gori, in the far reaches of the Russian Empire. This seething Caucasian town was a turbulent mix of piety, honor and drunken unruliness. "Gori was one of the last towns to practice the picturesque and savage custom of free for all town brawls with special rules, but no holds barred violence. Boozing, praying and fighting were all interconnected, with drunken Priests acting as referees." Soso's father was a drunken cobbler who viciously abused him. His mother was compassionate, yet maybe too much so, as she had a reputation for being promiscuous. Stalin was certainly aware, writes Montefiore, that his biological father might have been one of three neighborhood men that were close to the family. The Georgia of Stalin's youth was also steeped in a culture of rebellion and banditry. Young Soso grew up hearing stories of heroic Georgians who fought off the imperialist forces of Russia, and his original revolutionary cohorts were a turbulent admixture of dedicated Marxists and bloodthirsty criminals. Here is another quote that highlights both the ambiance of Stalin's birthplace, as well as Montefiore's writing style:

"Georgians and other Caucasian men in traditional chokha, their skirted long coats lined down the chest with bullet pouches, swaggered down the streets singing loudly. Georgian women in black headscarves and the wives of Russian officers in European fashions, promenaded through the gates of the Pushkin Gardens, buying ices and sherbet alongside Persians and Armenians, Chechens, Abkhaz and mountain Jews in a fancy dressed jamboree of hats and costumes.... ....This un-Slavic, un-Russian and ferociously Caucasian kaleidoscope of east and west was the world that nurtured Stalin."

Soso was somewhat of a paradox from early on. He was at once the brightest, most hard-working student, as well as the most mischievous and violent. He was small but tough, constantly getting into fights and assorted thuggery, but at the same time he was a gifted poet, and star choirboy. "Attractive to women, often singing Georgian melodies and declaiming poetry, he was charismatic and humorous, yet profoundly morose, an odd Georgian with a Northern coldness." He was a dashingly handsome and prolific lover, a great organizer, and a maliciously effective political gangster. Soso was, in fact, a typical Georgian in many ways, a people of unfailing hospitality and blood feuds. From Gori, he moved to Tiflis (Tblisi) where he entered a seminary to become a Priest. Ironically, it was here where he first encountered Marxism. After several years, Soso quit the seminary and dedicated his life to being a Marxist revolutionary. It was in Tiflis where he began his political career, which included activities such as brazen bank robberies and extortions. He was constantly on the move, residing at one time or another in Batumi, Baku, Vienna, London, and twice exiled to Siberia, the second time for several years, which had a lasting effect on him. We also learn about his relations with Lenin, Trotsky, and the rest as Montefiore takes us right up until 1917. Montefiore also notes that Stalin's turbulent underground life helped mold his extreme notions of loyalty and betrayal.

It is commonly thought that Stalin was not particularly intelligent, but according to Montefiore, that is not true. He lacked a formal education, yet he was a voracious autodidact with a mind like a steel trap. Occasionally mentioned is what type of books Stalin was reading at certain times, and how it affected him. Montefiore also notes that much of the prevailing opinion about Stalin, his intelligence, and his involvement in the Revolution has been taken from Trotsky, who Montefiore says is not entirely reliable. I could go on and on about this terrific book, but I suspect that you get the idea. `Young Stalin' is just an all around enthralling read. Five stars.
Ces commentaires ont-ils été utiles ?   Dites-le-nous

Discussions entre clients

Le forum concernant ce produit
Discussion Réponses Message le plus récent
Pas de discussions pour l'instant

Posez des questions, partagez votre opinion, gagnez en compréhension
Démarrer une nouvelle discussion
Thème:
Première publication:
Aller s'identifier
 

Rechercher parmi les discussions des clients
Rechercher dans toutes les discussions Amazon
   


Rechercher des articles similaires par rubrique