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Publisher's Summary

Paul Johnson, the most celebrated popular historian of our time, takes a scalpel to Stalin, whom he considers "one of the outstanding monsters of history." Johnson sets forth the essence of Stalin’s life, character, and career. "It has been a hateful task, which has caused me much pain and disgust," he writes with characteristic candor. "But it has been a duty I have performed not without a certain grim satisfaction."

"Stalin poses a particular challenge to a biographer: How does one render such a monster human? While Johnson doesn't flinch from chronicling Stalin's rise to absolute power - the remorseless vendetta against Leon Trotsky, the development of the Gulag, the extermination of millions of peasants - he also shows Stalin playing billiards, listening to his adored Mozart, and annotating Marx’s Capital in the margins. It is, in concise form, the story of Russia in the twentieth century: dark and murderous, a stage on which to display humanity's infinite capacity for self-destruction.

©2014 Paul Johnson (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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Short but Valuable

Stalin was without doubt one of the worst individuals to ever walk the planet. This volume gives a short and concise history of the man and his atrocities if you don't have the time and inclination to spend time with someone who was responsible for more death and destruction than than anyone but Mao in China. But it is time well spent to understand the horror of Communism, in a world where the brutalities of the so so distant past are being forgotten. Hitler's Germany was a paradise ( Except for Jews, Gypsies, Slavs,and the mentally disabled) in comparison to the Soviet Union that Lenin formed and Stalin later lead. There life was lived by all in terror and apprehension knowing that anyone , at any level, was subject to instant defamation and slow death by starvation, overwork in a freezing Gulag, or simply a bullet in the back of the head.

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Great intro to an awful person

A grim reminder that individual choices matter. Stalin didn't have to be heinous, sadistic, mass murderer...but he was.

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Brief History of Stalin

This is a great short history of one of the world's most terrifying and unique individuals of history. This book covers major events in Stalin's life and how they shaped him and he shaped Russia and the world.

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Good short history, well read

not meant to be the definitive work but a good summary, not overwhelming, Paul Johnson is good historian and the narration is very good as well.

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  • christian
  • 07-12-14

Stalinism: a very limited overview

What disappointed you about Stalin?

The blurb claims that the author has researched deeply into Stalin's psychology. For anyone interested in the subject, this feels more like the rambling lecture of a professor who has just skimmed over documents