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Publisher's Summary

Young Stalin tells the story of an exceptional, charismatic, darkly turbulent young man born into obscurity, fancying himself a poet and a priest, and finally embracing revolutionary idealism as his Messianic mission in life. Equal parts scholar and terrorist, a mastermind of bank robberies, extortion, piracy, and murder, he was so impressive in his brutality that Lenin made him, along with Trotsky, his chief henchman.

Here is Stalin the supreme dictator in the making - his psychology, his loves and hatreds, his intellectual interests, his knowledge of the world - learning how to triumph in the Kremlin and create the USSR in his profoundly flawed image.

Based on exhaustive research and astonishing new evidence, Young Stalin is a brilliant prehistory of the USSR from the perspective of those who would bring it into being.

©2007 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"On practically every page of Young Stalin there is a reason to smile with satisfaction at the thrust of revelation and often a reason to gasp or even to chuckle. As quasi-academic populist biography goes, therefore, this is as good as it gets." ( Independent) " Young Stalin is a gripping read....Montefiore's research, especially in the Georgian archives, is brilliant. The book provides a wealth of serious and scurrilous detail, creating a memorable portrait of one of the 20th century's greatest monsters." ( Telegraph)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Jim
  • Holland, TX, United States
  • 02-20-11

Really Good Read/Listen

This is an excellent book, perhaps even better than Montefiore's In the Court of the Red Tsar. It is surprising so many details of Stalin's life as a young revolutionary survived the ordered destruction of his personal history. Georgia was distant enough from Moscow that first person memoirs, letters, and documents survived destruction, setting in forgotten drawers. The reader/listener gets an amazingly detailed account of Stalin the prodigy, teenaged poet, under-sized street fighter, angry seminary student reading Karl Marx, the quirky promiscuous rebel with multiple children born out of wedlock, the organizer of bank robberies and extortions to fund the revolution, the intellectual who read every book he got his hands on, and finally the indispensable (to Lenin anyway) behind-the-scenes political manipulator. Much in the book runs against what was accepted in the West about his life for decades. Despite his small stature, for example, he gave and received physical beatings yet was an exceptional child in nearly every school subject. Not enough praise can be given the narrator, James Adams, for his breezy handling of difficult Georgian and Russian words and names—he does an exemplary job. This listener highly recommends this book for history buffs, Stalin buffs, and students of the period.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Carefully researched ground breaking biography

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Offers a much deeper humanistic look into who Stalin was.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Stalin for his ability to change, agitate, manipulate and steal. He was a magician and brilliant actor and that isn't something that gets noticed, All is said is his atrocities and this book shows the talented human being behind the history.

What about James Adams’s performance did you like?

Solid, eloquent and engaging.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Too long for one sitting and also too rich, I am going to listen to that last few chapters during the revolution as I had fallen off and want to reengage with it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Antonio
  • el cajon, CA, USA
  • 10-01-09

Young Stalin audio book part 1

This book is an absolute delight! Very informative, unbiased, a clear approach of how the muderer we call Stalin came to be, and how he matured into his image. It turns out, he's much more than a ruthless thug, rather an extremely intelligent fox-like persona, who Lenin himself at times yielded to.
2 thumbs up!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

salad days of a genocidal tyrant

as 20th century villains go, stalin is a much richer topic for biography than most of the other leading contenders, especially hitler. here's a guy who abandoned what would likely have been a successful career in the arts--stalin was a published poet several times over--when it became clear he had a knack for politics, as opposed to hitler, who embarked on a career of political charlatanry after failing as an artist.

of his biographers, i think simon sebag montefiore best understands the paradox of stalin--how a dude responsible for the starvation of tens of millions of his country's peasants, not to mention engineering a climate of extreme paranoia amongst his own ruling class still manages to command the reverence that stalin does to this day in the former soviet union. stalin's erudition, his magnetism and his tireless working habits, not to mention his role in keeping his country united and standing up to hitler's armies even as his country bore the brunt of the violence of ww2, all add up to a figure who is as much an object of fascination as of revulsion.

the narrative here is gripping and sebag montefiore's access to previously unavailable archives means this book is a trove of previously overlooked information on the early days of the bolshevik movement. young stalin, coupled with his earlier stalin: the court of the red tsar, represent an important revision in our assessment of this towering figure of the 20th century.

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Great read with lots of new info

This book was written after a significant amount of previously classified documents were released at the beginning of the 21 century. The writer gives plenty of informative detail of who's who w/o droning or boring. Narration was also excellent.

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Amazing book!

This book is brilliantly researched and written. It opens up a completely new perspective on the young Stalin. I highly recommend it.

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  • DENNIS
  • Adelphi, MD, United States
  • 03-15-15

Stalin was a hottie

Now that the subject is so far past as Napoleon, the young Stalin emerges as an unexpetedly lively person, resembling the thug-rappers on recent American experience (tho he has a better voice), but our thugs are nowhere so bold as to rob our national banks. Everywhere Stalin goes, he gets laid, even in Siberia.


3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Great Book: How thug gangsters took over a nation

If you want to know something about the Bolsheviks prior to taking power, read this book. It is also interesting to see how Stalin is not really a European and how far from an academic sphere Stalin actually was.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Stalin's life before He came to power now revealed

Would you listen to Young Stalin again? Why?

I might to catch up on chatpers I might have missed.

What did you like best about this story?

Knowing who was who in Stalin's life.

What about James Adams’s performance did you like?

I liked the whole thing honestly.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

NOt really, but I had no idea Joseph was such a womanizer.

Any additional comments?

A must have for any history fan.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Bradley
  • La Crosse, WI, United States
  • 08-24-14

Great History, Lousy Narrative

Any additional comments?

For history buffs, this book is invaluable, but it reads like a long list of names, dates, and events (and then....and then....and then....), and it's impossible to keep track of all the names (and multiple variations on all the names). I mistakenly thought Young Stalin was a fictionalization of real events and would read more like a novel. I wish I'd been right.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful