In This Review

Stalin
Stalin
By Edvard Radzinsky
Doubleday, 1996, 608 pp

A highly readable, somewhat breezy biography of Stalin by one of Russia's most successful playwrights. Because Radzinsky did not rely entirely on anecdotes and past histories but spent time in the archives, including the Kremlin's ultra-exclusive Presidential Archive, he adds meaningful detail to the dictator's portrait. Although his American publisher may think Radzinsky's most eye-catching additions are a new theory on how Stalin came to have a mangled left arm and new evidence that he was done in by a conspiracy of close associates, the book's real value is the depth it adds to the overall sense of the man. Radzinsky has surpassed Stalin's other biographers in mining every last bit of information from those who knew him firsthand at any stage in his life. Stalin does not emerge as less sinister or less bloodless, but he is made somehow more accessible.