Cover art for Stalin, Volume I

Stalin, Volume I

25 ratings

Summary

A magnificent new biography that revolutionizes our understanding of Stalin and his world. It has the quality of myth: A poor cobbler's son, a seminarian from an oppressed outer province of the Russian Empire, reinvents himself as a revolutionary and finds a leadership role within a small group of marginal zealots. When the old world is unexpectedly brought down in a total war, the band seizes control of the country, and the new regime it founds as the vanguard of a new world order is ruthlessly dominated from within by the former seminarian until he stands as the absolute ruler of a vast and terrible state apparatus, with dominion over Eurasia. We think we know the story well. Remarkably, Stephen Kotkin's epic new biography shows us how much we still have to learn. Volume One of Stalin begins and ends in January 1928 as Stalin boards a train bound for Siberia, about to embark upon the greatest gamble of his political life. He is now the ruler of the largest country in the world, but a poor and backward one, far behind the great capitalist countries in industrial and military power, encircled on all sides. In Siberia, Stalin conceives of the largest program of social reengineering ever attempted: the root-and-branch uprooting and collectivization of agriculture and industry across the entire Soviet Union. To stand up to the capitalists he will force into being an industrialized, militarized, collectivized great power is an act of will. Millions will die, and many more will suffer, but Stalin will push through to the end against all resistance and doubts. Where did such power come from? The product of a decade of scrupulous and intrepid research, Stalin contains a host of astonishing revelations. Kotkin gives an intimate first-ever view of the Bolshevik regime’s inner geography, bringing to the fore materials from Soviet military intelligence and the secret police.

©2014 Stephen Kotkin (P)2014 Recorded Books

Narrator: Paul Hecht
Category: History, Russia
Length: 38 hrs and 47 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Stalin, Volume II

Stalin, Volume II

17 ratings

Summary

Pulitzer Prize finalist Stephen Kotkin continues his definitive biography of Stalin, from collectivization and the Great Terror through to the coming of the conflict with Hitler's Germany that is the signal event of modern world history. When we left Stalin at the end of Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928, it was 1928, and he had finally climbed the mountaintop and achieved dictatorial power of the Soviet empire. The vastest peasant economy in the world would be transformed into socialist modernity, whatever it took. What it took, or what Stalin believed it took, was the most relentless campaign of shock industrialization the world has ever seen. This is the story of the five-year plans, the new factory towns, and the integration of an entire system of penal labor into the larger economy. With the Great Depression throwing global capital into crisis, the Soviet Union's New Man looked like nothing so much as the man of the future. As the shadows of the '30's deepen, Stalin's drive to militarize Soviet society takes on increasing urgency, and the ambition of Nazi Germany becomes the predominant geopolitical reality he faces when Hitler claims that communism is a global "Judeo-Bolshevik" conspiracy to bring the Slavic race to power. But just because they're out to get you doesn't mean you're not paranoid. Stalin's paranoia is increasingly one of the most horrible facts of life for his entire country. Stalin's obsessions drive him to violently purge almost a million people, including military leadership, diplomatic corps, and intelligence apparatus, to say nothing of a generation of artistic talent. And then came the pact that shocked the world and demoralized leftists everywhere: Stalin's pact with Hitler in 1939, the carve-up of Poland, and Stalin's utter inability to see Hitler's buildup to the invasion of the USSR. Yet for all that, in just 12 years of total power, Stalin has taken this country from a peasant economy to a formidable modern war machine that rivaled anything else in the world. When the invasion came, Stalin wasn't ready, but his country would prove to be prepared. That is a dimension of the Stalin story that has never adequately been reckoned with before, and it looms large here. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler: 1929-1941 is, like its predecessor, nothing less than a history of the world from Stalin's desk. It is also, like its predecessor, a landmark achievement in the annals of its field and in the biographer's art.

©2017 Stephen Kotkin (P)2017 Recorded Books

Narrator: Paul Hecht
Length: 49 hrs and 44 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Armageddon Averted

Armageddon Averted

7 ratings

Summary

Featuring extensive revisions to the text as well as a new introduction and epilogue - bringing the book completely up to date on the tumultuous politics of the previous decade and the long-term implications of the Soviet collapse - this compact, original, and engaging book offers the definitive account of one of the great historical events of the last 50 years.   Combining historical and geopolitical analysis with an absorbing narrative, Kotkin draws upon extensive research, including memoirs by dozens of insiders and senior figures, to illuminate the factors that led to the demise of Communism and the USSR. The new edition puts the collapse in the context of the global economic and political changes from the 1970s to the present day. Kotkin creates a compelling profile of post-Soviet Russia, and he reminds us, with chilling immediacy, of what could not have been predicted - that the world's largest police state, with several million troops, a doomsday arsenal, and an appalling record of violence, would liquidate itself with barely a whimper.  Throughout the book, Kotkin also paints vivid portraits of key personalities. Using recently released archive materials, for example, he offers a fascinating picture of Gorbachev, describing this virtuoso tactician and resolutely committed reformer as "flabbergasted by the fact that his socialist renewal was leading to the system's liquidation" - and more or less going along with it.   At once authoritative and provocative, Armageddon Averted illuminates the collapse of the Soviet Union, revealing how "principled restraint and scheming self-interest brought a deadly system to meek dissolution".

©2001 Stephen Kotkin (P)2018 Tantor

Narrator: John Pruden
Length: 5 hrs and 34 mins
Available on Audible