In January 1928 Stalin, the ruler of the largest country in the world, boarded a train bound for Siberia where he would embark upon the greatest gamble of his political life. He was about to begin uprooting and collectivization of agriculture and industry across the entire Soviet Union. Millions would die, and many more would suffer. Where did such great, monstrous power come from? The first of three volumes, the product of a decade of intrepid research, this landmark book offers the most convincing explanation yet of Stalin's power.
In its size, sweep, sensitivity, and surprises, Stephen Kotkin's first volume on Stalin is a monumental achievement: the early life of a man we thought we knew, set against the world - no less - that he inhabited. It's biography on an epic scale. Only Tolstoy might have matched it -- John Lewis Gaddis (author of THE COLD WAR) Stalin has had more than his fair share of biographies. But Stephen Kotkin's wonderfully broad-gauged work surpasses them all in both breadth and depth, showing brilliantly how the man, the time, the place, its history, and especially Russian/Soviet political culture, combined to produce one of history's greatest evil geniuses -- William Taubman (author of KHRUSHCHEV: THE MAN AND HIS ERA) Stephen Kotkin's first volume on Stalin is ambitious in conception and masterly in execution ... combines biography with historical analysis in a way that brings out clearly Stalin's great political talents as well as the ruthlessness with which he applied them and the impact his policies had on Russia and the world. This is a magisterial work on the grandest scale -- David Holloway (author of STALIN AND THE BOMB) Stephen Kotkin's biography of Stalin, of which this but the first of three volumes, is a most impressive achievement. Based on both archival and printed sources, it treats in meticulous detail the early years of a tyrant who was destined to become one of the most influential political figures of the twentieth century -- Richard Pipes (author of RUSSIA UNDER THE BOLSHEVIK REGIME)
Stephen Kotkin has a fair claim to be the greatest living expert on Stalin. He is the author of Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization and Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000. He is Professor of History at Princeton University.