The Last Days of Stalin Joshua Rubenstein

Publication date:
15 Apr 2016
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 b-w illus.

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A gripping account of the months before and after Stalin’s death and how his demise reshaped the course of twentieth-century history

Joshua Rubenstein’s riveting account takes us back to the second half of 1952 when no one could foresee an end to Joseph Stalin’s murderous regime. He was poised to challenge the newly elected U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower with armed force, and was also broadening a vicious campaign against Soviet Jews. Stalin’s sudden collapse and death in March 1953 was as dramatic and mysterious as his life. It is no overstatement to say that his passing marked a major turning point in the twentieth century.
The Last Days of Stalin is an engaging, briskly told account of the dictator’s final active months, the vigil at his deathbed, and the unfolding of Soviet and international events in the months after his death. Rubenstein throws fresh light on
  • the devious plotting of Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, and other “comrades in arms” who well understood the significance of the dictator’s impending death;
  • the witness-documented events of his death as compared to official published versions;
  • Stalin’s rumored plans to forcibly exile Soviet Jews;
  • the responses of Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles to the Kremlin’s conciliatory gestures after Stalin’s death; and
  • the momentous repercussions when Stalin’s regime of terror was cut short.

More about this title

Read an extract from The Last Days of Stalin here

Joshua Rubenstein is an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University. He lives in Brookline, MA.

“Convincing, . . . fascinating.”—Rosemary Sullivan, Wall Street Journal

“Joshua Rubenstein, in his vivid, brisk account, describes the months on each side of Stalin’s death to give the reader a sense of the significance of this turning point.”—Robbie Millen, Times (London)

“Joshua Rubenstein’s account of Stalin’s death and the responses to it is very well done… an accessible and engaging book.”—Geoffrey Roberts, Irish Times

“Intriguing.”—David Mikics, Tablet

“A fascinating work.”—Amy Lewonstin, Library Journal

“Joshua Rubenstein tells a gripping tale of the year around Stalin’s death, including revealing previously unknown details of the trial of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and Stalin’s version of the Final Solution, the Doctors’ Plot.”—Brett M. Rhyne, The Jewish Advocate

‘Joshua Rubenstein’s extremely interesting account of the ailing Stalin’s last days draws upon personal memoirs and new research - and conveys the deep fear inculcated during “the Black Years of Soviet Jewry”. ’ - Colin Shindler, Jewish Chronicle

“[Stalin’s] last days make a dramatic story, and Rubenstein tells it well.”—Sheila Fitzpatrick, Guardian

“A compact, chilling account.”—Harvey Blume, Arts Fuse

“Engaging. . . highly recommended.”—D. J. Dunn, Choice