Young Stalin

Young Stalin

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 1400096138

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Based on ten years' astonishing new research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic, dangerous boy became a student priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary, and the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image: How Stalin became Stalin.

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Innokenti Dubrovinsky had drowned in the river that summer, leaving an impressive library. Exile etiquette decreed the sharing of the libraries of the dead, but typically Stalin “expropriated” the books, refused to share them and started to read them ravenously. The life of the exiles rotated around just this sort of petty quarrel which Stalin was so expert at provoking. The other exiles were outraged—they complained, and blackballed him. Philip Zakharov, a Bolshevik, confronted the book-thief,

twilighted Kureika, Stalin started to live closely with aboriginal Tunguses and Ostyaks. There was little to do, but survival was a struggle: tundra wolves howled at the edge of the village. When Stalin visited the outhouse lavatory, he fired a rifle to keep the wolves at bay. When he travelled, the sleigh “dashed along under the interminable howls of wolves.” The wolf-packs of Kureika entered Stalin’s consciousness, the enemies always circling his Siberian hut. He sketched them on documents

including the icon-urinator (Stalin’s ex-pupil) Elisabedashvili and his friend Alexander “Alyosha” Svanidze, who rented a flat in Sololaki Street, just above Yerevan Square. There Stalin gave lessons, preparing a reading list of 300 books for his circle. “He didn’t just read books,” said Elisabedashvili, “he ate them.” Debonair with noble connections and three pretty sisters, Alyosha Svanidze would become Stalin’s brother-in-law and intimate until the Terror. But Stalin did not meet the sisters

would later take the money after the Tiflis heist). Stalin pretended to be a sick tenant, lying in bed, shrouded in sheets and bandages. The police searched the house but, having no orders about an invalid, they went to consult their officers. They were sent back to arrest the “patient,” who meanwhile had made a swift recovery—and exit. 4 Between escapes and meetings, Stalin was busy writing his first articles in a catechismic, romantic and apocalyptic style. Lado had teamed up with Abel

into the air. Kamo was in command according to a plan devised by Stalin, a superb organizer.” The competition between the bank robbers intensified, but there was a comradeship too. “All the main bank-robbers,” boasted Davrichewy, “were from Gori!” It was Davrichewy who pulled off the biggest heist so far, bagging over 100,000 roubles for the Socialist-Federalists in a robbery at Dusheti. Stalin, Tsintsadze and Kamo responded with robberies of ever increasing daring. They held up a train at Kars,

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