• In its size, sweep, sensitivity, and surprises, Stephen Kotkin's first volume on Stalin is a monumental achievement: the early life of a man we thought we knew, set against the world - no less - that he inhabited. It's biography on an epic scale. Only Tolstoy might have matched it

    John Lewis Gaddis (author of THE COLD WAR)
  • Stalin has had more than his fair share of biographies. But Stephen Kotkin's wonderfully broad-gauged work surpasses them all in both breadth and depth, showing brilliantly how the man, the time, the place, its history, and especially Russian/Soviet political culture, combined to produce one of history's greatest evil geniuses

    William Taubman (author of KHRUSHCHEV: THE MAN AND HIS ERA)
  • Stephen Kotkin's first volume on Stalin is ambitious in conception and masterly in execution ... combines biography with historical analysis in a way that brings out clearly Stalin's great political talents as well as the ruthlessness with which he applied them and the impact his policies had on Russia and the world. This is a magisterial work on the grandest scale

    David Holloway (author of STALIN AND THE BOMB)
  • Stephen Kotkin's biography of Stalin, of which this but the first of three volumes, is a most impressive achievement. Based on both archival and printed sources, it treats in meticulous detail the early years of a tyrant who was destined to become one of the most influential political figures of the twentieth century

    Richard Pipes (author of RUSSIA UNDER THE BOLSHEVIK REGIME)

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