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.
favour of immediate arrest of that bastard Lomov,” wrote Molotov. In the case of some unfortunate professor, Molotov asked Yezhov: “Why is this professor still in the Foreign Ministry and not in the NKVD?” 9 When some books by Stalin and Lenin were burned by mistake, Molotov ordered Yezhov to accelerate the case.10 When Molotov heard that a regional Procurator had grumbled about the Purge and joked, quite understandably, that it was amazing Stalin and Molotov were still alive when there were so
diffident way, enjoying some success with the girls who worked on the Central Committee secretariat, but he remained a traditional Caucasian. He favoured liaisons with discreet GPU staff: the hairdresser fitted the bill. As so often with jealousy, Nadya’s manic tantrums and bouts of depression encouraged the very thing she dreaded. All of these things— her illness, disappointment about her dress, politics, jealousy and Stalin’s oafishness—came together that night.20 Stalin was unbearably rude
younger son Vladimir, now six. Stalin admired this angelic nephew: “For the sake of such a wonderful son, let’s make peace. I forgive you.” Little Gulia, Stalin’s first grandchild, was brought out to be admired but she waved her arms and screamed and was swiftly taken to her room. Stalin sat at the table where he had once presided with Nadya over their young family. Cakes and chocolates were brought. Stalin took Vladimir on to his lap and started opening the chocolates: the little boy noticed his
loathe Stalin, insisted, “He’s just lying!” They entered the roomy dining room with a long table with about fourteen covered chairs along each side; there were comfortable chairs alongside it, high windows with long drapes, and two chandeliers and lights set in the walls. As in all Stalin’s houses, the walls, floors and ceilings were made of light Karelian pine panelling. It was so clean, so “dead quiet” and so “isolated from the other world,” that visitors imagined they were “in a hospital.”
Sochi, he presided over the effective NKVD takeover of the Republic itself, where he found himself in a genuine struggle with the Trotskyites. He set about the liquidation of Trotskyites along with his own men. The Soviet diplomats, journalists and soldiers serving in Spain spent as much time denouncing one another as fighting the Fascists. After a short stay at the new little dacha built for him by Lakoba at Novy Afon (New Athos),97 to the south in Abkhazia right beside Alexander III’s