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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,204 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore Narrator: James Adams Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2010 ISBN: 9781455188246
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Young Stalin tells the story of an exceptional, charismatic, darkly turbulent young man born into obscurity, fancying himself a poet and a priest, and finally embracing revolutionary idealism as his Messianic mission in life. Equal parts scholar and terrorist, a mastermind of bank robberies, extortion, piracy, and murder, he was so impressive in his brutality that Lenin made him, along with Trotsky, his chief henchman.

Here is Stalin the supreme dictator in the making—his psychology, his loves and hatreds, his intellectual interests, his knowledge of the world—learning how to triumph in the Kremlin and create the USSR in his profoundly flawed image.

Based on exhaustive research and astonishing new evidence, Young Stalin is a brilliant prehistory of the USSR from the perspective of those who would bring it into being. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] meticulously researched, authoritative biography of Stalin’s early years…No one, henceforth, need ever wonder how it was that Stalin found his way into Lenin’s inner circle…Montefiore has found his devil in the details, working his way with a fine-toothed comb through previously unread archival material in Russia and in Georgia…uncovering facts that Stalin, once he assumed power, took great pains to conceal.”

    New York Times

  • “A brilliant book…The portrait of Stalin that emerges from these pages is more complete, more colorful, more chilling, and far more convincing than any we have had before.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “A magnificent biography…A vivid psychological portrait of this dangerous, alluring, enigmatic man who, like Macavity, could vanish from the scenes of the outrages he masterminded.”

    Times (London)

  • “Those early years tell us a lot about the momentous second half of a murderous life.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Montefiore writes at a rollicking pace that captures how exciting it must have been for Stalin and his co-conspirators to make a revolution and create a new world…One of Montefiore’s great strengths is that he eschews psychobabble…He gives us unvarnished Stalin, often in the man’s own words…A triumph of research and storytelling.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • Young Stalin is a gripping read…Montefiore’s research, especially in the Georgian archives, is brilliant. The book provides a wealth of serious and scurrilous detail, creating a memorable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s greatest monsters.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “[A] brilliantly researched and readable portrait…Anyone who wants to understand…the shaping of one of history’s bloodiest dictators must read this original and thought-provoking book.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “On practically every page of Young Stalin there is a reason to smile with satisfaction at the thrust of revelation and often a reason to gasp or even to chuckle…This is as good as it gets.”

    Independent (London)

  • “[Some] stages of Stalin’s life are worthy of Alexandre Dumas.”

    Mail on Sunday (London)

  • “Should the life of a black-hearted ogre, a mass murderer who was the wickedest of the twentieth century’s monsters, be quite so entertaining?…[Montefiore writes] a racy, vivid biopic. Stalin the bank robber resembles James Cagney as his most revved-up; Stalin the buccaneer has the courtly panache of Errol Flynn…His effrontery is shockingly, shamefully irresistible…The revolution became a tragedy; it began, however, as a chaotic farce, with Stalin as its nihilistically jolly master of ceremonies.”

    Observer (London)

  • “Montefiore has a novelist’s eye for detail and the brio of a high-class journalist.”

    Scotsman (Edinburgh)

  • “I had always imagined that Stalin was a monster but, unlike Mao, a colorless one. How wrong I was and how fascinating he really was.”

    Spectator (UK)

  • “Wonderfully readable.”

    New Statesman (London)

  • “Outstanding.”

    Literary Review

  • “An exciting, exemplary biography…Montefiore captures in an absorbing narrative both Stalin’s conflicted character—marked by powerful charisma and deep paranoia—and the revolution’s early years with stunning clarity.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Montefiore chills anyone knowledgeable about the tyrant’s future accomplishments.”

    Booklist

  • “Montefiore has once again managed to craft a thrilling historical account…This is marvelous work, drawing new ties and reinvigorating old ones.”

    InTheNews.com

  • “Superb…Essential to understanding one of the twentieth century’s premier monsters and the nation he wrought.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Winner of the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography
  • Winner of the 2007 Costa Book Award for Biography

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 martin hickel | 2/19/2014

    " who knew this guy was first a poet, then a bank-robbing revolutionary? -- of course, when he murdered millions it was genocide, unlike when we do it -- we're just "fighting for democracy" -- like all great history, it's written by and for the winners, but still a sense of humanity peeks though here and there... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ray | 2/19/2014

    " Very detailed background on a young Stalin and his life. Be prepared to be inundated with a lot of unfamiliar (Russian) names and locations. Not for the feint of heart, nor those looking for a quick overview of Stalin's political development. I'm sure it's an excellent book, extremely well documented, very detailed, and if you're really looking for every detail of Stalin's development, this is a good book for you. But for casual reading at the beach, looking for an overview of Stalin, it's probably a bit much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pete | 2/15/2014

    " I'm impressed by Montefiore's human approach to history. In "Young Stalin," he tells the early history of a nearly reviled character. I was surprised to find Stalin interesting in a romantic sense: I felt like I was reading about Che Guevara. OK, Stalin is more of a thug, but his story is much more compelling and much harder to believe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 2/14/2014

    " Exciting, not at all dry like a lot of academic histories. I'm looking forward to reading the follow-up: Stalin, the Court of the Red Tsar "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kyrea | 1/31/2014

    " simply gripping how much it takes to build this personality cult. too many words to describe the makings of probably the most easy to be fascinated by and easy to hate 20th Century figure. But it was also about the birth of the Soviet Union. A completely different face to what it came to be. The revolution was dizzy with ideological passion, chaotic, drunken, macho, confusing which was probably what a few people close to Stalin thought of him before the days of the systematic Terror and the Gulag network. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 1/30/2014

    " I don't know what I find so fascinating about Stalin. I've always viewed with suspicion people who are Hitler enthusiasts, like they are cruel to animals or have hostages tied in their basements; but maybe that's because it feels like the Hitler story has been so drummed in. The Stalin story seems very murky and less well known. Every time I learn something new I want to tell everyone about it. I had no idea Stalin was so involved in the early revolution. I thought he came along later and took credit for other peoples work. This book sheds a lot of light on that ad well as being a great account of the first few days of the revolution. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Photis Stavropoulos | 1/20/2014

    " No way near "The court of the red czar", but interesting nevertheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Syed | 12/16/2013

    " Very interesting ... i heard this on an audio CD and it wanted me to keep driving. the general view of him still sounded very less cruel than he actually was. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roger | 11/27/2013

    " A fascinating look at the young years of person who matured to be quite a tyrant. This book is well written and researched. I would recommend it to anyone interested in his life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jason | 11/16/2013

    " An interesting read, but the author engages in a lot of haphazard psychoanalysis and "what ifs," not necessarily good history writing, but good if you want to sell a book to a popular audience. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick Redmond | 11/13/2013

    " I loved this! a real insight into a young man destined to be a hero by some and a monster by others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Garvan | 10/23/2013

    " Great book. Thoroughly entertaining . Starts off with one the biggest bank heists in history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fuschia | 9/9/2013

    " I really liked how this book was written, it was extremely interesting and so well researched. I've since bought the author's other works since I liked the writing style so much. Very thought provoking, excellent! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan Oram | 4/7/2013

    " Great biography about a man I had little idea of and now want to find out more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cbworkman25 | 4/1/2013

    " Picked it up at the library today... looked interesting. We didn't see many books about Stalin in the West, interesting to see how this reads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stefanie | 3/1/2013

    " an engaging chronicle of Stalin's early, formative years: poet, priest, gangster. this portrait brilliantly conveys the depth and complexity of the 'monster.' utterly fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Smiling_girl | 8/16/2012

    " i enjoyed the first half of this but i personally felt it became boring and complicated in the end "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brent | 3/12/2012

    " Engrossing biography that once you start you just can't put it down. A fantastic piece of research. I just hope every Russian (and Georgian) reads this book! It is such an important biography in order to understand Stalin and The history of the Russian Revolution. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Salvatore Leone | 8/6/2011

    " Very good story, based on a lot of research, about Stalin's early life and how he came into power. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 4/21/2011

    " Excellent historical account of the early life of Stalin and what formed him. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 4/17/2011

    " Something of a slog with repetition. Not his best but it is interesting to know background of early stalin. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 3/20/2011

    " awesome read, full review soon "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Thomas | 2/23/2011

    " One of my favorites. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Salvatore | 12/14/2010

    " Very good story, based on a lot of research, about Stalin's early life and how he came into power. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leanne | 10/31/2010

    " This is an amazing biography on the man that would one day become a monster named Stalin.

    We see an intelligent child, become an adolescent rebel, and a poet, gangster and revolutionary in his adult years. It really is facinating stuff, I couldn't put the book down.

    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kaworu | 8/3/2010

    " One day, when I was outside eating lunch and reading this book, someone asked me who "Stay-lin" (rhymes with Palin) is, and told me that he looks like Johnny Depp. What else can I say? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becky | 6/20/2010

    " One of the most interesting and thought provoking biographies I have ever read. This book has inspired me to find and read more historical books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kinsey | 5/16/2010

    " This is an excellent book for anyone looking to gain some insight into how Stalin became Stalin. Packed full of details of his early life that are very interesting! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephen | 2/28/2010

    " I now know a lot more about Stalin that I didn't know before. I'm surprised that my opinion of him could get lower than it was. The book was enjoyable, but could have been a lot better with some more careful editing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 1/5/2010

    " Excellent, readable bio showing how Stalin evolved into the monster he became. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Recato Cristiano | 11/26/2009

    " How could a guy like this ever become leader of a nation. A nation he was not even born into! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nils | 10/27/2009

    " The prequel to Montefiore's award winning "Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar," this is the story of Stalin; abused child, street urchin, gang member, terrorist, robber, poet, etc. Beautifully written, the story of the creation of a young monster. "

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About the Author
Author Simon Sebag Montefiore

SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE is a historian of Russia and the Middle East. Catherine the Great and Potemkin was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. Young Stalin won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Award, and le Grande Prix de la biographie politique. Jerusalem: The Biography was a worldwide best seller. Montefiore’s books are published in more than forty languages. He is the author of the novels Sashenka and One Night in Winter, which won the Paddy Power Political Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2014. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Dr. Montefiore graduated from Cambridge University, where he received his PhD. He lives in London.

About the Narrator

James Adams is one of the world’s leading authorities on terrorism and intelligence, and for more than twenty-five years he has specialized in national security. He is also the author of fourteen bestselling books on warfare, with a particular emphasis on covert warfare. A former managing editor of the London Sunday Times and CEO of United Press International, he trained as a journalist in England, where he graduated first in the country. Now living in Southern Oregon, he has narrated numerous audiobooks and earned an AudioFile Earphones Award and two coveted Audie Award for best narration.