Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book Review: Young Stalin by Sebag Montefiore

Young Stalin — Dynamite and Dialectics

If you want to get a glimpse of a Joseph Stalin  you likely had never conceived of before, just turn to the mug shot taken of him by Tsarist police in 1912 -- opp. p 62 in Sebag Montefiore's fascinating, radically revisionist new biography, "Young Stalin" (2007).

This Stalin is no repulsively pock-marked yellow-eyed dwarf -- as Leon Trotsky, who enacted enduring literary revenge on the man who exiled and executed him, described his foe. Nor does he remotely resemble the dull-witted bureaucrat of Trotskyite lore, a man who sat out the 1905 Revolution, for example, pushing papers in an office. (He happened to be tossing grenades at the time).