New York, N.Y. Doubleday (An Anchor Book), 1997. First Anchor Books Edition [stated]. Second Printing [stated]. Trade paperback. xii, 607,  pages. Translated by H.T. Willetts. Illustrations. Includes Preface, Prologue: The Name; and Introduction: An Enigmatic Story. Includes chapters on Soso: His Life and Death; Koba: Enigmatic Koba, The New Koba; Stalin: His Life, His Death; Interlude: A Family in Wartime. Also includes Afterword, Selected Bibliography, and Index. Edvard Stanislavovich Radzinsky (born September 23, 1936) is a Russian playwright, television personality, screenwriter, and the author of more than forty history books. Radzinsky has specialized in books about figures and times of Russian history. Books translated into English include his biographies of Tsars Nicholas II and Alexander II, Rasputin, and Joseph Stalin. His book Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives (1997) was based on research in Russian and Soviet archives made newly available after 1991. He explored numerous controversies about Joseph Stalin, including the existence of a fuller text of Lenin's Testament, the alleged involvement of Stalin as an agent of the Tsarist secret police, and the role of Stalin in the death of his wife and the murder of Sergey Kirov. According to Radzinsky, Stalin was poisoned by order of Lavrentiy Beria. His book includes an interview with a former bodyguard of Stalin, who stated that on the night of Stalin's death, the bodyguards were relieved of duty by an NKVD officer named Khrustalev. This same officer was briefly mentioned in Memories, the memoir of Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva. This book has what no previous biography has entirely gotten hold of: the facts. Granted privileged access to Russia's secret archives, Edvard Rarzinsky paints a picture of the Soviet strongman as more calculating, ruthless, and blood-crazed than has ever been described or imagined. Stalin deliberately shrouded the details of his life in tremendous secrecy, eliminating old colleagues-in-arms, personally directing purges of archivers, and creating a mythology that has gone almost entirely unchallenged--until now. Edvard Radzinsky thrillingly brings the past to life, uncovering the startling truth about Stalin's epic quest for domination. The Kremlin intrigues, the ceaseless rounds of double-dealing and back-stabbing, the private worlds of the Soviet empire's ruling class--all become, in Radzinsky's hands, as gripping and powerful as the great Russian sagas. And the riddle of that most cold-blooded of leaders, a man for whom nothing was sacred in his pursuit of absolute might--and perhaps the greatest mass murderer in Western history--is solved. Derived from a Kirkus review: A remarkable and gripping biography that may change the way we view Stalin and will certainly change many of the interpretations of his life. Based on unprecedented access to a range of archives, including the President's Archive, the Central Party Archive, and some KGB files, as well as interviews with survivors, Radzinsky has created a stunning portrait of a man who falls outside most of the normal human categories. Radzinsky's most significant contribution is to suggest that Stalin, in shedding the lives of untold millions, was following the prescripts of his ``teachers'': of revolutionary writers like Peter Tkachev and Bakunin, who believed that to create a new society ``the majority of the population must be exterminated''; of Trotsky, whose books advocating terror and revolutionary violence, found in the Party Archive, bear enthusiastic annotations in Stalin's hand; and of Lenin, who held the view that ``at some critical stage every generation of revolutionaries becomes a hindrance to the further development of the idea which they have carried forward,'' a view that may have served to justify the destruction of hundreds of thousands of party members in the 1930s. Radzinsky also clarifies much that has been uncertain. He penetrates Stalin's efforts to obscure his origins, and he suggests that, prior to the Civil War, Stalin, acting on Lenin's instructions, was probably a tsarist double agent; he adduces evidence that Stalin did not poison Lenin, who died of atherosclerosis; he reveals conclusively that Stalin ``personally staged the [show] trials'' of the 1930s; and indicates that he himself was probably poisoned by his police chief, Beria. Radzinsky's book is, in the fullest sense of the word, a tour de force. Condition: Good.
Keywords: Soviet Union, Stalin, Kremlin, Lenin, Russian Revolution, Bolshevik, Alliluyeva, Beria, Communism, Lev Kamenov, Koba, Molotov, Purges, Trotsky, Yagoda, Zinoviev