cover image Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy

Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy

Dmitri Volkogonov. Grove/Atlantic, $29.95 (642pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1165-4

The most candid and fullest reappraisal of Stalin to date by a Soviet source, this chilling, remarkably intimate, gripping biography marks an historical as well as scholarly event. How was it possible for an inconspicuous Party functionary, with only a modest role in the October Revolution, to become messianic arbiter of the fate of millions via terror, mass murder, exile and deportation? Drawing on hitherto untapped major archives as well as on interviews, Soviet historian Volkogonov shows how Stalin built an omnipotent bureaucracy to serve his cruelest whims and abetted the slide toward one-man dictatorship. We see a ``great actor'' conning the populace into worshiping him as ``good tsar'' even as he liquidated imagined enemies and turned rural workers into mindless cogs in a collectivized agrarian machine. The author, a deputy in the Russian parliament, lost his father to Stalin's executioners. With great narrative skill, he dramatically documents Stalin's paranoia and hunger for power, his purge of the officer corps, his secret diplomacy with Nazi Germany and massive, bloody bungling during WW II. Photos. (Sept.)