Read Stalin: A Political Biography by Isaac Deutscher Free Online
Book Title: Stalin: A Political Biography|
The author of the book: Isaac Deutscher
ISBN 13: 9780195002737
Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 6.7
The size of the: 331 KB
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Edition: Oxford University Press, USA
Date of issue: December 31st 1967
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Stalin's career, and this biography, cover an intense perid of Russian history from the last decades of the Tsars through revolution, civil war, World War, to the first decades of the nuclear age. It's an epic, brutal, at times heroic, and almost always tragic tale. Stalin seems to have moved across -and shaped - this vast world-historical stage driven more by calculations of immediate political expediency and the whisperings of his inner demons than by any grand design. There is a lot to reflect on in such a story, and one strength of this biography is that it leaves room for those reflections, without beating the reader over the head with an ideological (or psychological) agenda.
Stalin's political behaviour makes sense when viewed in the context of his life. An intelligent child born to an abusive drunkard Father, his earliest life lessons must have been not to trust anyone, to keep his true thoughts hidden, to observe other people keenly, to bide his time and always protect himself against danger. His experiences in the Seminary and as a revolutionary can only have reinforced and rewarded those survival instincts and skills. His early life reads like a recipe for creating a Cunning Murderous Pyschopath.
The danger, from the perspective of political history, is that we tend to write-off his career with those last three words, as if they prove there is nothing more to be learned from his story. In death, as in life, Stalin continues to be underestimated as a politician.
Aside from the story of the man himself, of course, his biography is also a story of the rise and development of Bolshevism, the Russian revolution, and the Soviet State.
A key lesson (informed by Joanthon Schell) I'm drawing from that second story is that while at certain times non-violent revolution (regime overthrow) is easy, social change following a revolution is nearly always hard, and is very often bloody.
Most of the time, then, activists might more usefully focus their energy on the slow work of social change than on hopeless charges at the overt ramparts of regime power.
It's fascinating to read (from the perspective of Stalin's involvement) about the Bolshevik revolution and realise just how contingent it was, how easily history could have been very different.
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Read information about the authorIsaac Deutscher was a Polish-born Jewish Marxist writer, journalist and political activist who moved to the United Kingdom at the outbreak of World War II. He is best known as a biographer of Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin and as a commentator on Soviet affairs. His three-volume biography of Trotsky, in particular, was highly influential among the British New Left.
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