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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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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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The books a distortion of history

Most American scholarship of Stalin has been exposed as blatant lies. Some of the most infamous works have relied heavily on Nazi propaganda from WW2. It should be noted that the American rich funded Hitler. There would have been no fascism if the rich hadn't paid for it. After the war ended the United States preserved the fascist bureaucrats and intellectuals and brought them them home. The first head of NATO was a German fascist. All of this I say to make clear that the American class if political power and extensive wealth hated socialism and despised the Soviets from the start. If you really think that in a global empire like America there is no propaganda and the scholarship is objective then you're a fool. This book isn't as bad as many of the earlier ones. But it certainly isn't neutral. The book will not go four sentences without making some kind of snide comment. People recording the life of Hitler will praise him for pages. Biographers of Hitler can recount sections of his life without feeling the need to remind you constantly of his crimes. This book will not go four sentences without disparaging Stalin. Every positive quality even when young is an act of conniving. When Stalin is humble it is because he is being arrogant. Even his positive qualities are made to appear as their opposites. It loves to focus on what it calls "the terror" but it never mentions that why it was so terrible was because as soon as the Soviet Union came into existence it was invaded by the West. It was never not in a struggle over life and death. The book makes it seem like Stalin was a lunatic and Russia was on another planet. The Soviet during this period was defending its very existence from the capitalists. The book will site someone that the Red Army executed and make it seem like that person was just an innocent bystander, like they just grabbed someone off the bus and shot them. Tucked away within the condemnation of Stalin will be an admission of guilt written in such a way to minimize the fact. It will say something like, "for developing too close connections with foreign interests" at one point it bemoans Stalin for having overseen the execution of a person who the author admits was deeply affiliated with the German Nazis! This is not what neutrality looks like. It doesn't mention that during this time his country and all of the western allied nations are attempting to, in the words of Churchill, "kill the baby in the cradle." How can you possibly be considered neutral when you completely omit that during the so called "red terror" your country was doing everything in its power to see that the Soviet Union was killed in its cradle. How can you possibly be neutral while reporting the execution of agents of foreign conspiracy during a time of invasion as if they were innocent bystanders.

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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