It’s unusual for two masterpieces to appear within less than a year of each other on a subject that has already been pored over by countless writers from nearly every angle. That has now happened with two books about Joseph Stalin. The first was Stephen Kotkin’s Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, the initial volume in a projected trilogy. And now appears Khlevniuk’s superb book, a deeply informed and utterly compelling biography, written by a careful Russia historian who knows the relevant archival material better than any other scholar. Khlevniuk’s fine filter lets through only the essentials; what he highlights is so frequently new and revealing that the portrait in the end seems more accurate and complete than anything before. Stalin and the country that produced him—and that he then harshly refashioned—emerge with stunning clarity. The integrity of Khlevniuk’s account comes from his refusal to speculate beyond where hard evidence carries him. Favorov’s masterful translation from the Russian preserves the book’s spare, penetrating prose.
In This Review
In This Review
Most Read Articles
When Stalin Faced Hitler
Who Fooled Whom?
The Lost Art of American Diplomacy
Can the State Department Be Saved?
How Iran Sees Its Standoff With the United States
And What Trump Should Do to Solve the Problem He Created
The Right Way to Deal With Huawei
The United States Needs to Compete With Chinese Firms, Not Just Ban Them
Greece’s New Groove
Why Athens Is No Longer Europe’s Black Sheep