A Dictator and his Books
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"A truly fascinating study that leaves no doubt that Stalin took ideas as seriously as political power itself."-Tony Barber, Financial Times "[A] fascinating new study."-Michael O'Donnell, Wall Street Journal "Fascinating in parts. . . . Perhaps the biggest insight his book collection offers is that [Stalin] was a diligent, reverential and genuinely enthusiastic reader of works by Lenin."-Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian "Roberts has produced a relatively compact, engagingly written study of the Soviet leader as an intellectual. . . . Basing his interpretation both on what Stalin read and on how he did so, the author contends we can not only 'get to know him from the outside in,' but also 'glimpse the world through his eyes.' . . . . The world glimpsed through his eyes was a frightening place. It has become so again. Whether or not dictators of Stalin's ilk will emerge once more, they are unlikely to be as well read."-Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Times Literary Supplement "In its examination of Stalin's debts to the books he read, this is a pioneering work of scholarship. . . . The core of this book is a longer chapter detailing his pometki-the markings he made in the volumes he read. . . . The significance of these markings-and the chief value of Robert's book-is in what they tell us of the workings of Stalin's mind."-John Gray, New Statesman "Stalin's Library is 'among the best means we have of accessing the dictator's inner life' and Geoffrey Roberts does so admirably and revealingly here."-Brian Maye, Irish Times "Can one define a life from a personal library? Geoffrey Roberts, an expert on Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, thinks you can. Such analysis is particularly relevant as Stalin did not keep a diary nor write a memoir."-Colin Steele, Canberra Times "Stalin's Library tilts our image of a paranoid killer interested only in power towards a more nuanced-but even scarier-one: of a deep thinker prepared to turn his ideas into bullets."-Nigel Jones, Spectator "Interpreting the reasons for Stalin's reactions, usually negative, to what he was reading, and assessing the influence of his reading on his decision-making skills are tasks that demand not just the encyclopedic knowledge that Roberts has of his subject but also the intuition of a psychologist of genius."-Donald Rayfield, Literary Review "Offers a new perspective on the dictator: his intellectual curiosity, his reading, his studying and his accumulation of 25,000 books along with journals and pamphlets. . . . Roberts uses the library as a way in to a wider discussion of Soviet arts and culture."-Vin Arthey, The Scotsman "New books on Russian history include two Stalin-related ones, the Georgian dictator remaining ever popular as a subject of interest. . . . I was particularly intrigued by the one on his voracious reading habits: Stalin's Library: A Dictator and His Books."-Sophie Roell, Five Books, "Notable Nonfiction of Early 2022" "Roberts' book is dedicated to getting beyond the 'moral revulsion' and understanding how Stalin did what he did."-Noonie Minogue, The Tablet "Through seven chapters of closely argued analysis, part-chronological, part-thematic, Roberts builds up the picture of a three-dimensional Stalin, at times abrupt and dogmatic, at others reflective and even self-critical; nor is he humourless. . . . It's an intriguing infill of detail, a niche presentation or a sidelight shone on a titan of political power well within living memory."-Basil Ransome-Davies, Shiny New Books "A balanced and informative book, in which Roberts punctures many myths about Stalin. A mustread for anyone interested in an accurate, non-partisan history of Stalin's Soviet Union and the Stalin phenomenon."-John Green, Morning Star "Analyses the extensive marginalia Stalin left in hundreds of books. They reveal that intelle
Geoffrey Roberts is emeritus professor of history at University College Cork and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. A leading Soviet history expert, his many books include an award-winning biography of Zhukov, Stalin's general, and the acclaimed Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War.