Stalin: Man of History by Ian Grey

When it comes to a man like Joseph Stalin most biographies are nothing more than gross anti-communist propaganda pieces. Among the multitude of lies and distortions lie nothing more than a bourgeois rant against the supposed evils of anti-capitalism. Every once in a while though one comes along which changes perspectives, if only a little.

In his classic work author Ian Grey paints a proactive picture. Leaving behind sections on Stalin’s crimes he instead focuses on the man himself (a daring proposition when writing about revolutionary figures). Clearly sympathetic to Stalin, and even at times hostile to Trotsky and other leading members of the Left Opposition, Ian does this in an attempt to set the record straight; that comrade Stalin was, above all, human and not some inhuman monster.

Each chapter is well written and done so with a scholar’s thoroughness; footnotes and sources litter a grand portion of the end. Handling fiery topics such as the collectivization campaigns and the Five Year plans with ease, Ian is able to brush aside pedantic  pandering and swipe at the heart of the events. He explains the convoluted events much the same way a knowable grandfather shares his experience of life “way back than”. While critical he is not hostile. While friendly he is not an ally.

Though it is but a single volume book spanning 464 pages few other books contain equal amounts objectivity and oppositional analysis such as this one. Though the stinking aroma of bourgeois opinion occasionally rears its ugly head here and again such instances are few and far between. And though one can obviously find a much better biography of Stalin if one is interested in something nothing more than a flattery, for those of us interested in truly fair and balanced conclusions may look no further.

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