Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879-1929: A Study in History and Personality

Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879-1929: A Study in History and Personality

Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879-1929: A Study in History and Personality

Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879-1929: A Study in History and Personality

Excerpt

The biographical literature on Stalin has its conventions. The writer typically begins by identifying Transcaucasia, the region lying between the Black and Caspian seas south of the Caucasian mountain range, as an historical mingling-ground of Asian and European peoples. He gives a sketch of the small Transcaucasian country of Georgia, and of the Georgian town of Gori where a boy was born in 1879, Iosif Djugashvili by name, who would later become known to the world as Stalin. Then the story flows on in chronological fashion.

This book, though biographical, follows a somewhat different plan deriving from its particular theme: the rendezvous of a personality with the public political world. My aim is less to tell the story of a life than to illuminate its linkage with history. This being the life of one who in later years made himself the most absolute ruler yet seen in any large contemporary state, the book could also be described as a study in the forming of a dictator and the conditions that made for his dictatorship.

A flood of Russian revelations since Stalin’s death in 1953 has removed any possible doubt that his name is going down in history as a byword for tyranny. They make it incontrovertibly clear that he was a man of dictatorial personality. As usual, however, and tragically, much that is evident to hindsight eluded foresight. In the party oligarchy that ruled Russia in the early Soviet years, Stalin does not seem to have been perceived by many as a potential dictator. The ruling group included a forceful though non-tyrannical leader in Lenin, who was surrounded by a galaxy of renowned rev-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.