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Extended Audio Sample Young Stalin, by Simon Sebag Montefiore Click for printable size audiobook cover
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:
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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.”


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


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 "

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