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Wow what a cool guy Real Robin Hood bank robber, taking from the rich and giving to the central committee, always one step ahead of the tsar and his okhrana henchmen Lot of affairs with bolshevik babes and I guess he ran some kind of underground journal Badass Also lots of cool stuff about going into exile and being pulled around on reindeer sleighs and escaping exile And some good clowning on that nerd Trotsky.Not going to bother reading the sequel about his life after 1917 Assume he eith Wow what a cool guy Real Robin Hood bank robber, taking from the rich and giving to the central committee, always one step ahead of the tsar and his okhrana henchmen Lot of affairs with bolshevik babes and I guess he ran some kind of underground journal Badass Also lots of cool stuff about going into exile and being pulled around on reindeer sleighs and escaping exile And some good clowning on that nerd Trotsky.Not going to bother reading the sequel about his life after 1917 Assume he either continues being a very cool guy or mellows out a bit February 2016 then on 31 July and 1 Aug 2018 edited for clarity.Listened to this on Audio CD Fascinating Very well read by James Adams Paints Stalin as muchintellectual than most describe him One cause Trotsky was a powerful writer, who totally misjudged and demeaned Stalin and has had much better press Another reason, socialists who still love the idea of socialism, find it very hard to justify and explain how the Soviet Union could fall prey to this man Stalin, had to paint him February 2016 then on 31 July and 1 Aug 2018 edited for clarity.Listened to this on Audio CD Fascinating Very well read by James Adams Paints Stalin as muchintellectual than most describe him One cause Trotsky was a powerful writer, who totally misjudged and demeaned Stalin and has had much better press Another reason, socialists who still love the idea of socialism, find it very hard to justify and explain how the Soviet Union could fall prey to this man Stalin, had to paint him as an evil no nothing, not a product of the system he, Lenin, Marx, Trotsky and the rest created.Did you know the city of Vienna in 1913 was where ALL the following people lived Stalin, Lenin, Bukharin, Trotsky, Tito, Otto Bauer, Hitler, Max Weber, Freud, Richard Strauss, in addition to Wittgenstein and the Viennese Circle of philosophers The author notes all or most of these famous and infamous individuals, especially Hitler, for obvious reasons But of course he missed the too little known, but most powerful ideological enemies of Stalin and the other Marxists The Austrian economists Menger, B hm Bawerk, Wieser, Mises, and Hayek, all native to and living in Vienna then Mises had not yet written his famous article, then later turned into his book, Socialism, destroying the idea that a pure socialist society could be a rational or thriving one, but rather, would be reduced to the lowest form of survival.Stalin was in Vienna in 1913, at the behest of Lenin, to write a position paper for the Bolshevik party of Russia on the nationalities issue Greater Russia was composed of many, many various nationalities which the Tzars had conquered and made part of Russia including of course, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Chechens, etc Mises had just finished his great book Theory of Money and Credit, which had won him high recognition in the realm of economic theory and government policy He had probably just begun his own study of the subject Stalin was working on, but from a very different perspective His book was to be published in 1919, just after WWI Nation, State and Economy Too bad they never met The world, and in particular, the Russian people, and individuals of nationalities later conquered, subjugated and in many places annihilated by Stalin could only have been better off if Mises and Stalin met.The book is quite good at showing how Stalin steadily climbed the Bolshevik web of intrigue to the top up through 1917, with many references to what happened later, fully described by the author in his earlier book Stalin the Court of the Red Tsar , and made himself invaluable to Lenin the Party His bank robberies, vandalism, extortion, piracy, killings, secrecy, paranoia, unending philanderings, are all here in graphic detail But additional information about his studiousness, his range and depth of reading and discussing great books, his writing, his powerful polemics, his singing voice and his poetry are all fully revealed He was actually a very promising and published poet in a country, Georgia, which had a passion for poetry and poets.But what the book did not dwell enough on, in my view, was what was it about Marxism Leninism that stirred Stalin s highest passion, held his resolve through exile and near extinction, and quenched his thirst for knowledge This is the key issue to me, what a biography of one of the biggest mass murderers of all time should explore in depth Many, many clues are given But too many are stray, not focused on this key issue.It was also interesting to me that the author, Simon Sebag Montefiore, classified Stalin as a killer in only Hitler s league when, by the numbers, Hitler was probably much the lesser at least regarding their own countrymen , but Mao unmentioned probably beat him out by many millions of murders See the works of Rummel Death by Government, The Black Book of Communism by several authors and other books for the full grisly facts.Another curious aspect of the book was the author s constant reference to many, many memoirs of key people in Stalin s life I have NEVER read references to so many memoirs in ANY biography as in this one Virtually ALL the main folks in his life, including his own mother and the lowest and youngest Siberian lover s memoirs were referenced It s either incredible scholarship or the strangest thing I have ever heard I must confess that I am a footnote reader from way back, so listening to a biography like this on audio CD, without the ability to check footnotes end notes, leaves me feeling somewhat helpless Can all these memoirs actually be real I do like the way the author fairly often notes that the particular memoir he uses could or could not be taken at face value Background motives and credibility of memoir or history writers referenced were questioned and seemingly used appropriately That sounded good to me, though I am far from an expert on this subject.An inconsistency in the book At various times he said Stalin had thin skin couldn t take criticism well but other times he said Stalin was very reserved and in control in very tough tense situations being interrogated by the police, commanding his bank heists, extortion plans, and Mauserists etc So called because they took their Mauser pistols everywhere they went and were not shy about using them A good part of the book It smashed the minor myth that the Tsarist government was as totalitarian as the communists Not even close when you compare the sentences and harshness of the imprisonments and exiles in Tsarist vs Communist Russia.A point I pondered during and after reading the book Why were the police and Okhrana so inept in actually prosecuting and putting away Stalin and his compatriots of the very real crimes they committed robbery, extortion, kidnapping, arson, piracy, murder, bribery, etc The book could have asked and explored the question Was there anything the Tsar s regime could have done to prevent Stalin from turning into a communist, or continuing and strengthening his Bolshevik resolve during the years of his youth The exile punishments certainly did not work well achieve their purpose with Stalin nor on many if not most of his compatriots Lenin, Trotsky, etc.Still another curiosity of the book was the author s lack of significant description of how Lenin got the German government to arrange the infamous sealed train to Petrograd St Petersburg in 1917, during WWI Granted this is a book about Stalin and not Lenin But still, this was a pretty momentous occurrence, since Lenin was the motive force and strategist, behind the Bolsheviks and their upcoming putsch at that time Lenin, Stalin and the other top Bolsheviks had later to deal with how to make Lenin not appear to be seen as a traitor to Russia, with his coming, via Germany, the WWI enemy There was no reference at all to the very readable and accessible Lenin in Zurich by Solzhenitsyn, which dealt with the Bolshevik sympathizing businessman ugh beware of this type who actually made it possible Highly recommended ancillary reading.The book on CD is fairly long 13 CDs, and some parts were a little tough to follow how many Russian names can you distinguish and keep straight, with all the intrigue that was going on, especially when each Russian usually had at least two different names Heck, just telling Kamo from Kaminovsky was tough enough But the narrator was really good and if you want to know about how Stalin came to be in the top three in the Soviet Union during the revolution, and destined to beat out Trotsky to later become 1, this book seems quite good @Read ô Young Stalin ß Based on ten years astonishing new research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic, dangerous boy became a student priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary, and the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image How Stalin became Stalin List of IllustrationsStalin Family TreeMapsIntroductionList of CharactersNote Young Stalin Stalin s Names, Nicknames, Bylines and AliasesAcknowledgementsSelect BibliographyIndex The full and extremely extensive references for this book are available in the hardback edition and also on the author s website at In order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size, the author and publishers have decided not to include the notes in the paperback We hope List of IllustrationsStalin Family TreeMapsIntroductionList of CharactersNote Young Stalin Stalin s Names, Nicknames, Bylines and AliasesAcknowledgementsSelect BibliographyIndex The full and extremely extensive references for this book are available in the hardback edition and also on the author s website at In order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size, the author and publishers have decided not to include the notes in the paperback We hope readers will agree that, for most, the balance of convenience is best served by this policy A really entertaining read about the life of Stalin before he actually became Stalin Filled with a wealth of information about his upbringing, family, friends, relationships, gangster days and the beginnings of the original Politburo in Communist Russia Would recommend to anyone interested in the personal history of one of the world s most hated dictators. This is the best biography I ve read in a long time I didn t know much about Stalin and had only basic knowledge of Russian history before I started, but Montefiore s book leaves me hungry for.The book begins with an excellent hook, describing a sensational bank robbery Stalin perpetrated in Tiflis, Georgia It s also very well researched, with lots of endnotes and footnotes but no so many footnotes as to distract from the text Even better, it s written in such a way that the characte This is the best biography I ve read in a long time I didn t know much about Stalin and had only basic knowledge of Russian history before I started, but Montefiore s book leaves me hungry for.The book begins with an excellent hook, describing a sensational bank robbery Stalin perpetrated in Tiflis, Georgia It s also very well researched, with lots of endnotes and footnotes but no so many footnotes as to distract from the text Even better, it s written in such a way that the characters, even the peripheral ones, come alive I had no idea there were so many colorful characters in the dying Russian Empire Surprisingly, many passages were excruciatingly funny, such as the description of Stalin s pet psychopath Kamo, feigning insanity to the point where he actually became insane.I would HIGHLY recommend this book, even if you re not all that interested in Stalin or Russia After all, I wasn t Bettie s Books Bettie s Books After reading Simon Sebag Montefiore s The Court of the Red Tsar Sabout Stalin s post revolution reign I didn t want to readI think Montefiore s writing is pedestrian and that he somehow made the story of the man who is arguably history s most brutal and bloody dictator and of his alliances with the western world s greatest mid century leaders less than transporting work However, I have a neighbor who s a glutton for this kind of thing, so I fell heir to a copy of Young Stalin, and here After reading Simon Sebag Montefiore s The Court of the Red Tsar Sabout Stalin s post revolution reign I didn t want to readI think Montefiore s writing is pedestrian and that he somehow made the story of the man who is arguably history s most brutal and bloody dictator and of his alliances with the western world s greatest mid century leaders less than transporting work However, I have a neighbor who s a glutton for this kind of thing, so I fell heir to a copy of Young Stalin, and here we are This one is infinitelyreadable than the first, though it still doesn t measure up to the lively novelistic quality that Henri Troyat achieves in his story of Catherine the Great, let alone of David McCullough The difference here is that Montefiore tells a story as much as he presents his catalogue of facts, figures, and biographical sketches I even caught myself rooting for the Bolsheviks over the Menscheviks during the short time in 1917 when the issue was in doubt Most important, I now think I know a bit about Stalin the inner man, how he got to be such a brute, and what, aside from position and savagery, gave him his power over others Stalin was the perfect combination of nature and nurture to become a brutal revolutionary He was born into nearly bestial poverty with a probably promiscuous mother and a drunken swine of a father who may or not have been his real one His mother wanted him educated against daddy s wishes and sacrificed and begged and probably prostituted herself to get the money to send him to school and then seminary He was a born leader in a Georgian not Russian it s different, I found out hamlet ruled by street gangs So his training in thuggery and physical violence began early The whole town ran that way On holy days, the men would drink and brawl starting with the three year olds in the streets It was just the way things were Good training for resisting the cossacks who were sure to run another pogrom sometime soon He was naturally contemptuous of authority and as ruthless toward others as his parents were to him He led rebellions often connected with forbidden books He was quite the reader in seminary, joined anti establishment groups well before he knew about Marx He became a Marxist, but dictatorship of the proletariat to him meant dictatorship over the proletariat by an oligarchy headed by himself, of course He had to be in charge Just had to Any political position he ever advocated was calculated for his personal advantage rather than to fulfill some philosophical premise He despised as tea talkers those who would rather talk than kill and steal for the cause In addition to all that he was quite a competent poet, given to romantic versifying Montefiore prefaces each section of the book with one of his poems, and they re not half bad in a conventional sort of way Most of his early youth was spent as a robber and brigand for the movement, sending stolen money to the exiled Lenin and Trotsky and getting arrested and sent to Siberia for his pains Siberian exile in Czarist Russia meant not prison, but life in a small, cold village far from the lights of St Petersburg, and most of the time he escaped well before his term was up Then he d get arrested again He did serve out nearly all of his last four year term because they sent him so far up the river not even he could get out He was saved by the WWI draft, for which he turned out to be ineligible once medically examined because of a right arm lame from a childhood accident All of which brings us right up to the collapse of the Czar and the beginning of the revolution All during his criminal, underground life he was beset by spies from the Czar s police Of course, he had his own bribed moles inside the police as well He also ran protection rackets that enabled him to live briefly in mansions of oil barons including the Rothschilds and Nobels However, he seldom stayed long anywhere or with anyone, seldom took money for himself He was never acquisitive in that way Eventually he built a number of villas and retreats, but they were as much for security as luxury He had to keep his enemies guessing his whereabouts He had affairs right along sex was apparently abundant among revolutionaries, and his charisma was particularly attractive He sired some kids he neglected, and he buried a wife whom he had virtually abandoned All in all, an intelligent, charismatic, ruthless, and despicable man whose historical timing was unfortunately just right to grab a big hunk of power He wasn t born Stalin He had to work his way to it From Josef Vissrionovich Djugashvili through thirty or so aliases and bylines to Joseph Steelman Lenin was just as bloodthirsty as Stalin Some of the Bolsheviks in the beginning wanted to give some amnesty and he simply declared that without plenty of blood there was no such thing as a revolution Stalin was his perfect agent Trotsky gave nice speeches, but Stalin considered him a tea talker, kept him at a distance, and finally had him ice picked in 1940 Nature loves a vacuum and doesn t seem to care how it gets filled In this case, she filled the empty power space left by the Romanovs with a poisonous substance that killed 20 25 million people over the course of thirty seven years Quite a guy As I am planning to read, Stalin Court of the Red Tsar, I thought it would make sense to read this volume first and I am so glad that I did This volume takes Stalin from his childhood, up to 1917, and encompasses so much I knew very little about Stalin, before reading this, and so this was full of surprises for me It begins with a bank raid of which Stalin was involved in many to get money for the cause Montefiore writes as though this is fiction, rather than fact, and really draws th As I am planning to read, Stalin Court of the Red Tsar, I thought it would make sense to read this volume first and I am so glad that I did This volume takes Stalin from his childhood, up to 1917, and encompasses so much I knew very little about Stalin, before reading this, and so this was full of surprises for me It begins with a bank raid of which Stalin was involved in many to get money for the cause Montefiore writes as though this is fiction, rather than fact, and really draws the reader in Mind you, much of Stalin s life reads like fiction We have the poverty stricken childhood, the over protective mother, and violent, drunken father A child who is obviously bright, and intelligent, whose father is opposed to his receiving an education Always in trouble, always rebellious, Stalin s young life contained many contradictions He almost became a priest, was always an obsessive reader and inspired great loyalty, friendship and love Yet, he was argumentative, took deep dislikes to people, held a grudge, was thin skinned and was, indeed, always in trouble In later years, this resulted in several visits to prison and to exile, including to Siberia The book states, a little piece of Siberia remained lodged in Stalin for the rest of his life I enjoyed this biography immensely and look forward to reading on with the second volume in this biography Even the preface starts off strong with a brilliantly vivid description of Stalin s first bank heist That particular narrative readslike an action novel than a biography.Similarly, the author portrays Soso s Stalin s childhood home of Gori, Georgia as a hotbed of mischief, both major and minor From all out town brawls to school field trips to witness an execution, the town reminds me of an almost cartoonish depiction of a criminal haven Further, Stalin s NUMEROUS escapes from capt Even the preface starts off strong with a brilliantly vivid description of Stalin s first bank heist That particular narrative readslike an action novel than a biography.Similarly, the author portrays Soso s Stalin s childhood home of Gori, Georgia as a hotbed of mischief, both major and minor From all out town brawls to school field trips to witness an execution, the town reminds me of an almost cartoonish depiction of a criminal haven Further, Stalin s NUMEROUS escapes from capture, from incarceration, and from exile seem like things that could only happen in a bad movie Once Stalin reaches his twenties, the book borders on repetitive as is Stalin s life Stalin gets exiled, sleeps with some local teenagers, escapes, stirs up trouble, repeat All in all, an engrossing historical biography and this coming from someone who does not particularly enjoy history Reading this definitely made me yearn to learnabout Stalin s time in power and the Terror he unleashed, my current knowledge being limited to what I need to know to teach Animal Farm If Sebag Montefiore s other Stalin book weren t 800 pages, I would be starting it right now