Simon Sebag Montefiore's thrilling portrait of Stalin's youth ... A remarkable book ... Montefiore gives a brilliant account of the 1907 Tiflis heist ... the resulting scenes of mayhem were worthy of the De Niro and Pacino film HEAT -- Michael Burleigh Sunday Telegraph Should the life of a black-hearted ogre, a mass murderer ... be quite so entertaining? The story Montefiore has told requires the psychological penetration and social omniscience of a great novelist. Dickens once or twice peeps over the biographer's shoulder ... A racy, vivid biopic -- Peter Conrad Observer This picture of Stalin as a poet is one of the revelations of Simon Sebag Montefiore's macabrely fascinating YOUNG STALIN ... Stalin's life [is] worthy of Dumas ... Brilliantly drawn -- Antonia Fraser Mail on Sunday Magnificent ... YOUNG STALIN is a masterpiece of detail. Sebag Montefiore has unearthed documents long lost in Georgian archives, found the descendants of Soso's friends and produced a vivid psychological portrait of this dangerous, alluring, enigmatic man ... This book moves with pace and authority -- Michael Binyon The Times A gripping read... Simon Sebag Montefiore's research ... is brilliant. The book provides a wealth of serious and scurrilous detail, creating a memorable portrait of one of the 20th century's greatest monsters -- Antony Beevor Daily Telegraph An outstanding book, full of surprises. A rich and complex figure emerges from the new material Sebag Montefiore has unearthed in archives ... This book is a triumph of research and storytelling -- Victor Sebestyen Evening Standard 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. As quasi-academic populist biography goes ... this is as good as it gets -- Christopher Silvester Independent on Sunday Montefiore gives us a richly and fluently documented study of the chief terrorist in the making. His chapters have an anecdotal exuberance and factual novelty. It is an impressive work of examination -- Robert Service Sunday Times Familiar material is transformed with fresh depth and detail. While magnificently entertaining, it reveals the complexity of historical conditions that forge revolutions and their leaders -- Carol Rumens Independent Outstanding ... It is hard to imagine how this account can be improved on. The narrative flows with insight and humour: YOUNG STALIN is a prequel that outshines even THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR -- Donald Rayfield Literary Review An enthralling but appalling account ... The author writes with panache, style and acerbic wit ... Paints a portrait of Stalin which is the most rounded we have in any language. A mass of contradictions, he is brilliantly brought to life in this superb biography -- Martin McCauley History Today YOUNG STALIN, like its predecessor, bubbles over like an erupting volcano. A better metaphor might be a Siberian snowstorm: the details glitter, and freeze the blood -- Daniel Snowman Jewish Chronicle Full of fascinating nuggets ... A gripping but dark Boys' Own adventure, packed with bombs, violence and treachery Financial Times Magazine Montefiore is in a class of his own. As he did in STALIN: COURT OF THE RED TSAR, Montefiore has unearthed an unprecedented range of evidence from archives, and has tracked down an astonishing range of witnesses ... in this brilliantly researched book. The portrait of Stalin that emerges from these pages is more complete, more colourful, more chilling and far more convincing that any we have had before -- Orlando Figes New York Review of Books A dark and terrifying story, and there could be no better guide than Montefiore. He's uncovered a mind-blowing amount of material from archives in Moscow and Georgia. The ultimate effect of YOUNG STALIN is to create a haunting, meticulous and compelling story of a man well worth trying to understand -- Nicholas Thompson Los Angeles Times The most revelatory and scoop-laden biography I have read in ages, besides being a factual thriller -- Andrew Marr Observer Vividly written and exhaustively researched, this remarkable book gives new insight into the making of the monster who often emerges less as a steely ideologue than a repellent rogue - but more complex and multifaceted than before -- Colin Thubron Observer A gripping and convincing account of the web-toed monster from his earliest years -- Jonathan Mirsky Spectator Montefiore offers a portrait as chilling as it is intimate -- Ruth Scurr The Times Gripping. Montefiore approaches Stalin's early life with the insight of a novelist and the eye of a cinematographer and achieves a rare trick: a work of scholarship which is also a page turner -- Stephanie Merritt Observer
Stalin remains one of the creators of our world - like Hitler, the personification of evil. Yet Stalin hid his past and remains mysterious. This enthralling biography that reads like a thriller finally unveils the secret but extraordinary journey of the Georgian cobbler's son who became the Red Tsar. What forms such a merciless psychopath and consummate politician? Was he illegitimate? Did he owe everything to his mother - was she whore or saint? Was he a Tsarist agent or Lenin's chief gangster? Was he to blame for his wife's premature death? If he really missed the 1917 Revolution, how did he emerge so powerful? Born in poverty, exceptional in his studies, this charismatic but dangerous boy was hailed as a romantic poet, trained as a priest, but found his mission as fanatical revolutionary. The secret world of Joseph Conrad-style terrorism was Stalin's natural habitat, where he charmed his future courtiers, made the enemies he later liquidated, and abandoned his many mistresses and children. Montefiore shows how the murderous paranoia and gangsterism of the criminal underworld, combined with pitiless ideology, taught Stalin how to triumph in the Kremlin.