Professor Kuromiya is fully steeped in the new sources and fresh historiography of the fearsome dictator. He makes ample use of his earlier pioneering research on Soviet history as well as new documents declassified from the Soviet archives. [This] is the best short biography of Stalin that we have.
Professor Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University.
Stalin was once described ? by Hitler ? as “half beast, half giant”. His tyrannical rule of the Soviet Unionwas one of the bloodiest episodes in the modern history of the world. How did a man once regarded by his rivals as intellectually inferior come to achieve near-divine status as dictator of the largest country in the world?
In this concise biography, Hiroaki Kuromiya argues that the key to understanding the enigma of Stalin lies in his unadulterated political ambition. Subordinating all private emotion to his quest for power, Stalin was able to order the deaths of people close to him without sentimentality for the sake of his political goals. Stalin’s use of terror as a political action is lucidly and systematically explained: how he viewed political terror, why he used it so extensively, and how he felt about the deaths of millions. Employing his extensive research into recently uncovered documents on Stalin’s life, Kuromiya reflects the current state of knowledge in the field. The establishment of the Soviet Unionchanged the world order irreversibly. Kuromiya argues that without understanding Stalin, one cannot understand the twentieth century.
Hiroaki Kuromiya is Professor of History at Indiana University. He has been researching and writing about the period of Stalin's rule for nearly thirty years and is author of Stalin's Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers, 1928-1932 (1988) and Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian--Russian Borderland, 1870s--1990s (1998).