Very interesting read. I read it because 1) it is written by a British cousin on my son’s dad’s side of the family, 2) it caught my eye in the New Books section of my Public Library, and 3) I have a long fascination with Russian history, started by seeing the movie “Nicholas and Alexandra” when I was a teen. I wanted to try to understand what upbringing and personality traits created the monster who would murder tens of thousands of his fellow Russians. I learned he was intelligent, creative, an accomplished singer and poet, a womanizer, trained to be a priest. Many new documents and diaries have recently become available to researchers. The author was actually able to interview a few people who knew Stalin. Obviously, they are in their 90’s so time is running out for first hand account. I find all the Russian names and nicknames quite confusing, but the effort was worth my time.
As I sat reading it on BART enroute to work, a young lady next to me commented that she had been reading a book on how America is headed in the direct of Stalin’s Soviet regime. G_d help us all. Another good reason to read this well researched and well written book.