Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
Simon Sebag Montefiore
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This widely acclaimed biography of Stalin and his entourage during the terrifying decades of his supreme power transforms our understanding of Stalin as Soviet dictator, Marxist leader, and Russian tsar.
Based on groundbreaking research, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals the fear and betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous cruelty of this secret world. Written with bracing narrative verve, this feat of scholarly research has become a classic of modern history writing. Showing how Stalin's triumphs and crimes were the product of his fanatical Marxism and his gifted but flawed character, this is an intimate portrait of a man as complicated and human as he was brutal and chilling.
tried to keep in step but what I did resembled clowning more than dancing. It was pleasant but with an inner tension.” Stalin watched from the gramophone, grinning roguishly as Molotov and Berman glided across the floor. It was Stalin who “really had fun. For us,” said Berman, “these dancing sessions were a good opportunity to whisper to each other things that couldn’t be said out loud.” Molotov warned Berman “about being infiltrated by various hostile organizations,” a warning prearranged with
members. Mikoyan realized this would make it easier to remove the old Politburo members. “I thought— ‘something’s happening.’ ” Mikoyan was suddenly afraid: “I was just knocked off my feet.” They realized Stalin had meant it when he shouted: “You’ve grown old! I’ll replace you all!”7 At 7 p.m. (to suit Stalin’s own timetable) on 5 October 1952, the Nineteenth Congress opened. The leaders sat bunched together on the left with the ageing Stalin alone on the right. Stalin himself only attended the
109–17. Yakir’s villas: Shadenko at RKKA meeting, 3–4 August 1937: RGVA 18.104.22.168–66: Stalin commented: “He traded, he couldn’t be without trading.” Voroshilov at NKO, 9–10 June 1937. Glittering receptions: Galina Yegorova’s interrogation, account of the good life at Embassy parties etc. in Vasilieva, Kremlin Wives, pp. 108–9. Yakovlev, Century, pp. 8, 15, 20. Molotov: on Ivan the Terrible in Volkogonov, p. 310. Mikoyan: on Ivan the Terrible, p. 534. “Stalin Molotov i Zhdanov o vtoroy serii
on 1/2 Feb. The gala: 2 Feb. 1940. Marshal Yegorov shot on Red Army Day, 23 Feb. Spahr, p. 177. Yezhov’s sentencing: Moskovskie Novosti, no. 5, 30 Jan. 1994. Statement before Military Collegium, 3 Jan. 1940. Polianski, pp. 304–5. Jansen-Petrov, p. 188. Getty, pp. 560–2. Execution of Yezhov quoting N. P. Afanasev: Jansen-Petrov, pp. 188–9. Ushakov and Stukakov, pp. 74–5. Death certificate 4 February 1940 signed by a Lieut. Krivitsky but it is likely that Blokhin performed this important work
squeezed Svetlana with “overflowing Georgian affection” but she claimed later that she did not like his “smell of tobacco and bristly moustache.” Her mother, whose love was so hard to earn, became the untouchable saint in her eyes. The Bolsheviks, who believed it was possible to create a Leninist “New Man,” placed stern emphasis on education.30 The magnates were semi-educated autodidacts who never stopped studying, so their children were expected to work hard and grew up much more cultured