Stalin's Library A Dictator and his Books Geoffrey Roberts

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
08 Feb 2022
ISBN:
9780300179040
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
272 pages: 235 x 156mm
Illustrations:
14 b-w illus.

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A compelling intellectual biography of Stalin told through his personal library

In this engaging life of the twentieth century’s most self-consciously learned dictator, Geoffrey Roberts explores the books Stalin read, how he read them, and what they taught him. Stalin firmly believed in the transformative potential of words and his voracious appetite for reading guided him throughout his years. A biography as well as an intellectual portrait, this book explores all aspects of Stalin’s tumultuous life and politics.
 
Stalin, an avid reader from an early age, amassed a surprisingly diverse personal collection of thousands of books, many of which he marked and annotated revealing his intimate thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Based on his wide-ranging research in Russian archives, Roberts tells the story of the creation, fragmentation, and resurrection of Stalin’s personal library. As a true believer in communist ideology, Stalin was a fanatical idealist who hated his enemies—the bourgeoisie, kulaks, capitalists, imperialists, reactionaries, counter-revolutionaries, traitors—but detested their ideas even more.

Geoffrey Roberts is emeritus professor of history at University College Cork and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. A leading Soviet history expert, his many books include an award-winning biography of Zhukov, Stalin’s general, and the acclaimed Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War.

"Stalin was a lifelong reader of astonishing stamina and range. In this shrewd and compelling exploration, Geoffrey Roberts finds the key to understanding the despot and his despotism hidden in plain sight in the pages of his books. The love of reading drew Stalin to the revolution and gave him the intellectual assurance that all his ruthless violence was both necessary and justified. Stalin's Library offers a new and fascinating depth of insight into the mind of a fanatic."—Rachel Polonsky, author of Molotov's Magic Lantern
 
 

“Innovative and intriguing: the warlord and mass-murderer as bookworm, librarian and intellectual. A fascinating read.”—David Reynolds, co-author of The Kremlin Letters: Stalin's Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt



“A German philosopher once said, "Tell me how you read and I'll tell you who you are." Geoffrey Roberts's study of the remains of Stalin's library, and the angry exclamations and demanding queries made by the tyrant's blue pencil in the margins (and sometimes whole rewritten pages) reveals Stalin as a fanatical proof-reader, a phenomenally gifted interrogator of other persons' opinions.”—Donald Rayfield, author of Stalin and His Hangmen
 
 

“This fascinating, original, and meticulously researched study of Stalin’s library offers penetrating insight into the mind of a dictator who valued ideas as much as power. In exploring Stalin as an avid reader of books, Roberts punctures many myths about the man.”—Stephen Smith, author of Russia in Revolution