©2003 Simon Sebag Montefiore; (P)2004 Orion Publishing Group Ltd.
"A marvellously racy, gossipy study, based on immense research." (Evening Standard)
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.
I had read excellent reviews of the book, but was disappointed with this audiobook. The historical material is very interesting and it is excellently read. The problem is that the narrative is rambling and disjointed. Since the book is so well rated, this appears to be a problem with the abridgement. Save your money and wait for an unabridged version!
This audiobok has NO structure - I mean no Chapters that dissect it by topic or time. Consequently it quickly becomes just a stream of words many of which are (inevitably) meaningless. This lack of structure unfortunately turns an otherwise excellent Narrator (John Nettles) into something like a software translator.
I do not recommend it to anyone
This book made me think about what Reagan used to refer to as the evil empire.
A lesson in random lunacy put to work, based on excellent research.You wished this was fiction only.
An exciting wellwritten book keeping your attention all the way through.
A vivid and interesting biography.
"Superb and horrifying biography"
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.
"My first book on Stalin and a perfect introduction"
Not massively detailed, instead introduced me to all the main charachters giving me something to follow up on in many areas. Narration was not overtly ácted out which'I prefer.
Writing style is elegant and provides a very good window onto the the court life. As always with Ssm impeccable research unearthing some real gems. But I think you need to already know something of the subject and characters to really enjoy it.
Overall I found it hard to get into and a bit one paced.
"a good history book"
struggled with this one, mainly due to trying to follow the names throughout. good to know the general history first to allow you to appreciate the writers great knowledge on Stalin, but as a new subject....difficult to follow. would have been easier if the actual years were mention more often, I found myself on Wikipedia trying to place events.
Great and informative book on a subject I know very little about.
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