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‘This book will be of no interest to the authors of Inoi Stalin – The Other Stalin, Podlye mify o Staline – Sordid Myths about Stalin, Stalin Veliki – Stalin the Great, Rossiya za Stalina – Russia for Stalin, Nastolnaya kniga Stalinista – The Stalinist’s Handbook, Ubistva Stalina – The Murder of Stalinand other similar works and their readers,’ warns Oleg Klevniuk in his foreword. ‘I wrote this for people like me, who want to understand Stalin and his era and the nature and logic of the Soviet dictator’s actions which have had such an enormous influence over our country’s development.’
Khlevniuk explains that his book is ‘the result of a long study of the 1920s-1950s period in Soviet history – the Stalin years’. In an interview with the website postnauka he said, ‘Like other historians, when I looked at the history of institutions and the history of major events the question kept arising, how did happen? Why was it like this and not otherwise? The documents often presented an irrefutable answer, because Stalin decided it would be so.’ The logic of my work led me to examine the dictator’s personality, to try to understand what kind of person Stalin was, how he was formed as a politician and won undivided power, what role he played in the destinies of the country, how his view of the world, his interests, preferences and prejudices influenced politics on a grand scale. In general, if you want to learn about what we call the subjective factor, write a biography of the country’s leader.’
The author based his work entirely on verified sources, including archives – from original copies of speeches and Stalin’s own writings, to his correspondence with Politbureau members and registers of visitors to his office in the Kremlin.
Klevniuk’s book is published in English by Yale University Press under the title Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator.