Thursday, 29 September 2016

Young Stalin - Two Reviews

Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore is a riveting book which looks into the depths on Stalin’s life before he comes to power in the early 1900’s.
The book explores each part of his life with such extreme detail that it makes you feel like are watching a film as you read it. This book is the first in years which goes into so much detail and truly shows what Stalin did in his life that it is a nice refresher.
The most interesting parts about the book, is Stalin’s “innocence” in the early years of his life. He was in the choir at school, he was a poet, and trained as a priest all before his twenty’s. This peaceful lifestyle he lead in his early life seems quite unrealistic and unreal compared to all the destruction and mayhem he created when he was in power, it’s almost like he was two different people.
He eventually found his true ‘mission’ – a revolutionary. He was a mastermind of bank robbery, arson, piracy and murder. He was in simple terms the most intelligent terrorist in Russia, and soon became the top henchman for Lennin.
Throughout the book we read of his many love affairs and illegitimate children, his friendships both good and bad, the true and the fake. We see he’s personality develop and twist into the man who ruled the USSR with such a ferocity that he is so well known in history for his flawed control.
This book truly reflects and represents Stalin in the most enthralling way that I couldn’t put this book down at all. JC

Through reading Young Stalin, the reader finds out about a bewildering adventure in which Stalin, a man who was born no more than ‘his mother’s beloved treasure’, goes on a journey to become the treasurer of the USSR. There is no doubt that Stalin’s extremist character, whether it was his brutal demeanour or strong work ethic, were the keys to him becoming the leader of the Soviet Union. However, the mystery remains on how the youthful ‘Soso’ transitioned to become the domineering Stalin.
The abundance of alcohol in the Town of Gori partnered with Stalin’s father’s undying love for a drink, left Stalin with a drunk and violent father, known as ‘Crazy Beso’. Stalin’s mother, Keke, also used physical discipline unreservedly leaving Stalin to become ‘heartless’, ‘truculent’ and frequently wanting to be ‘alone’. These violent actions were the foundations for which a pugnacious and unsympathetic leader was made.
The town of Gori, where Stalin lived, was known for ‘… town brawls, wrestling tournaments and school-boy gang warfare’. As a teenager Stalin was the most ‘immaculate streetfighter’ owning a ‘catapult and homemade bow’. Stalin’s lifestyle was made up of violent past-times, which some could argue, allowed actions like carrying out the genocide of millions of Russians easier.

Simon Sebag Montefiore has written a masterful biography however, he does not tell us about the historical significance of the events that occurred in Stalin’s youth, which limits the complexity of Stalin’s image. For instance, Stalin’s ‘webbed foot, pockmarks… and damaged left arm’ physically separated him from others. That may be the reason for his lack of empathy towards the 750,000 executed innocent military men and an essential part of him becoming the ‘man of steel’ he truly was. MK

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