Oleg Khlevniuk’s new biography of Stalin

Oleg Khlevniuk is the foremost Russian specialist in the history of the Soviet ruling circle from the late 1920s until Stalin’s death in 1953 and of the mass terror of the same period. In his work, Khlevniuk largely builds on his own archival research and avoids grand theories and psychologizing. As Anne Applebaum wrote about his study of the early evolution of the Soviet regime,

Digging deep and long in obscure archival collections, the Russian academic Oleg Khlevniuk has produced marvelously detailed accounts of the incremental evolution of the Soviet Communist Party from the chaos of the revolution into what eventually became Stalinism.

The Yale University Press has published a new biography of Stalin by Oleg Khlevniuk. The book has also been published in Russia, in Russian, both as a physical and an e-book. Khlevniuk has written convincingly on Stalin’s role in running the Bolshevik state in the 1920s and the 1930s; I wonder how well he covered the earlier years in the dictator’s life. (Stephen Kotkin brought out the first tome of his grandly conceived Stalin biography in 2014, spanning the years up to 1928.) At any rate, it must be – to use a Leninist cliche – a very timely book.

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