"[4], The central theme of the first volume of Kotkin's biography is Stalin as an individual of paradoxes and how those paradoxes impacted his rise to power. The character of Stalin emerges as both astute and blinkered, cynical and true believing, people oriented and vicious, canny enough to see through people but prone to nonsensical beliefs. Recorded on January 25, 2018. Stephen Kotkin on Stalin and Putin intelligence 1st November 2018 Later, Suny states "The Stalin that Kotkin presents was a strategic thinker, both realistic to the point of cynicism and ideological to a fault", highlighting one more of the many paradoxes of power Kotkin explores. Finally Suny states, "Kotkin radically simplifies “socialism” to mean anti-capitalism as practiced in Stalin’s Soviet Union. When the band seizes control of the country in the … The pact, as Stalin (as channelled by Kotkin) saw it, was a ‘miraculous’ achievement that ‘deflected the German war machine, delivered a bounty of German machine tools, enabled the reconquest and Sovietisation of tsarist borderlands, and reinserted the USSR into the role of arbitrating world affairs’. "The combination of Communist ways of thinking and political practice," he argues, "with Stalin's demonic mind and political skill allowed for astonishing bloodletting. “Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, creator of great power, and destroyer of tens of millions of lives …” Thus begins part one of this episode of Uncommon Knowledge, which dives into the biography of Joseph Stalin.This episode’s guest, Stephen Kotkin, author of Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941, examines the political career of Joseph Stalin in … Liquidating Bukharin and Alexei Rykov (Lenin's successor as chairman of the Council of People's Commissars) completed the destruction of Lenin's party. "[3], Addressing the veiled comparison between Hitler and Stalin, an unspoken theme that runs through the book until it bursts into the open at the third section of the book,[3] Vladimir Tismaneanu writes, "This book is not only about Stalin and his rivals within the Bolshevik elite and neither is it limited to the impact of international crises on Stalin's choices. In Kotkin’s view, Marxist-Leninist ideology was the straitjacket chosen by the communists to destroy a society and build a new order. Jonathan Haslam, George F. Kennan Professor in the School of Historical Studies, introduced Kotkin, who fielded questions from the audience at the end of the talk.. Stephen Kotkin is the author of Stalin: Paradoxes of … https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/11/06/how-stalin-became-stalinist Regarding Stalin's role as a Marxist and communist thinker and ideologue, he states, "the debates within the party are reduced to personality disputes, and the author treats Stalin’s philosophical universe with hostile condescension." [6][7] Mark Atwood Lawrence quotes directly from Kotkin, "The dictator believed, Kotkin contends, that the world’s most powerful countries "achieved and maintained their great-power status by mastery of a set of modern attributes: mass production, mass consumption, mass culture, mass politics. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 was originally published in October 2017 by Penguin Random House (Hardcover and Kindle), and as an audiobook in December 2017 by Recorded Books, and was … "[3], This volume spans the period from 1929, with the destruction of the Right Opposition and ends with the impending Nazi–Soviet war in 1941. In Stalin, Stephen Kotkin offers a biography that, at long last, is equal to this shrewd, sociopathic, charismatic dictator in all his dimensions. On April 4, 2019, Stephen Kotkin, John P. Birkelund '52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University, gave a public lecture on "Stalin at War." Kotkin creates the biography around three sections, covering the three major events that unfolded for the Soviet Union during 1929-1941: the collectivization of agriculture in the early 1930s and the accompanying drive for mass rapid industrialization in the Soviet Union; the Great Terror of 1937-38; and finally the relationship between the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany which begins with the Molotov—Ribbentrop Pact, which ultimately sets the stage for the events in the final part of the volume, the lead up to the German invasion of the Soviet Union. What made Stalin capable of such cruelty, and how did he manage to accumulate the power to practice it? Stephen Kotkin, author of the book Stalin: Waiting For Hitler, 1929-1941, explored Joseph Stalin’s forced industrialization of the Soviet Union and assessed his relationship with Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II. Interview with Stephen Kotkin, (part 1), Why Does Joseph Stalin Matter? Kotkin was a Pultizer Prize finalist for Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928. The Independent writes in its review, Kotkin's biography "tends to history rather than biography"[3] and Hiroaki Kuromiya writes, "the book is more a “marriage of biography and history". Vol. "[13][14], In contrast to most other biographies of Stalin, which portray Stalin in the early years of the revolution as a minor figure of little importance, Kotkin details how Stalin in these years was an ambitious organizer, intriguer and political infighter, and this experience ultimately prepared him to win the Bolshevik power struggle after Lenin's death. At the same time, Kotkin demonstrates the impossibility of understanding Stalin’s momentous decisions outside of the context of the tragic history of imperial Russia. [1][10] In a major contrast with the first half of the book, Kotkin here shows how Stalin was not molded by the circumstances he found himself in, but rather molded those circumstances and shaped the events unfolding around him to facilitate his rise to power. Stephen Kotkin’s Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941 is the story of how a political system forged an unparalleled personality and vice versa. Cynical about everyone else’s motives, he himself ‘lived and breathed ideals’. In April 1934, the poet Osip Mandelstam bumped into Boris Pasternak on a Moscow street. The character of Stalin emerges as both astute and blinkered, cynical and true believing, people oriented and vicious, canny enough to see through people but prone to nonsensical beliefs. He directs Princeton’s Institute for International and Regional Studies and co-directs its Program in the History and Practice of Diplomacy. Stephen Kotkin offers a biography that, at long last, is equal to this shrewd, sociopathic, charismatic dictator in all his dimensions. By Stephen Kotkin, Book Review: Stalin, Vol. Stephen Kotkin’s Stalin: ... its focus constantly shifting from the tiniest personal details to the grand sweep of international strategy. Stalin Professor Stephen Kotkin continued his multi-volume biography of Joseph Stalin, with a focus on Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet Union in the years leading up to World War II. A magnificent new biography that revolutionizes our understanding of Stalin and his world The product of a decade of intrepid research, Stalin is a landmark achievement. Maps. Kotkin was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928. While structural causes and challenges explain much of Russian history, only individual decisions and contingencies determined the course of events. In defiance of Churchill's assessment, Stephen Kotkin's attempts to unravel and understand Stalin and his Soviet Union in the second of a three-volume biography of Stalin. The pact, as Stalin (as channelled by Kotkin) saw it, was a ‘miraculous’ achievement that ‘deflected the German war machine, delivered a bounty of German machine tools, enabled the reconquest and Sovietisation of tsarist borderlands, and reinserted the USSR into the role of arbitrating world affairs.’"[8], In perhaps the greatest paradox of Stalin's life, Ronald Grigor Suny writes about Stalin and Hitler, "A frenzy of hunting for spies and subversives shook the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, as Joseph Stalin propelled his police to unmask Trotskyite-fascists, rightist and leftist deviationists, wreckers, and hidden enemies with party cards. [2], The work is both a political biography recounting his life in the context of his involvement in Russian and later Soviet history, and to a lesser degree a personal biography, detailing Stalin's private life and connecting it to his public life as revolutionary, leader and dictator. "[10], Another common question asked by many about the Great Terror is how and why Stalin was able to conduct the purges and not face opposition or become a casualty in the process, Mark Atwood Lawrence states, "Kotkin’s most striking contribution, though, is to probe reasons Stalin encountered little opposition as he wrought mayhem on his nation. Waiting for Hitler was widely reviewed in notable academic journals. He critiques Kotkin's analysis of the controversy surrounding Lenin's testament, he states, "Kotkin’s interpretation, fascinating as it is, relies on conjecture rather than evidence." However, the author does not fail to connect these events to the larger political world of the Soviet Union and specifically the intraparty conflicts and the final purges of the Old Bolsheviks that would follow. … Stalin misjudged Hitler too, assuming that he would never risk a two-front war, and also that he could be persuaded out of any invasion plans by the economic advantages of the 1939 pact. Two of the more personal episodes Kotkin covers are the deaths of his wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva in 1932 and his best friend Sergei Kirov in 1934, both events which had a major psychological impact on Stalin. His “power flowed from attention to detail but also to people— and not just any people, but often to the new people." Kotkin’s project is the War and Peace of history: a book you fear you will never finish, but just cannot put down. Stalin: the emerging monster Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 - the first volume of a magnificent new biography of the man who made himself dictator of Russia, rebuilt the lost empire, sent tens of millions to their deaths, and launched a half-war that lasted fifty years. Stalin’s obsession with Nazi power resulted in policies of “deterrence as well as accommodation”—and generated miscalculation leading to war. Some of these reviews include: Book Cover for Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, Book was reprinted as a paperback by Penguin in October 2015 (, Stalin. "[8], Many commentators have noted that the person of Stalin is present only as a supporting player in the first half of the book. He directs Princeton's Institute for International and Regional Studies and co-directs its Program in the History and Practice of Diplomacy. In Stalin, Stephen Kotkin offers a biography that, at long last, is equal to this shrewd, sociopathic, charismatic dictator in all his dimensions. Stalin Vol 2: Waiting for Hitler review: A flawed masterpiece Stephen Kotkin gives us what is actually a twin … Kotkin’s Stalin was supremely capable, while at the same time firmly rooted in the Bolshevik ideological experience, a depiction that avoids the mistake made by many of the general secretary’s would-be biographers who portray him as standing somehow outside of his historical place and time. Waiting for Hitler was widely reviewed in notable academic journals. Richard Aldous: Hello, and welcome.My guest this week on The American Interest Podcast is Stephen Kotkin, professor of history at Princeton and author of a new book, Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941.Stephen, welcome to the show. Inclined to paranoia, he was still able to keep it under control. of Hitler's main agent."[10]. "Kotkin does a fine job of placing Stalin’s actions in their geopolitical context, which encompassed the Spanish Civil War, Japanese aggression against China, the search for collective security in the 1930s, and much more. "[5], In his review in the Independent, Edward Wilson offers this final assessment, "This otherwise excellent book is marred by its conclusion. Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 is the first volume of an extensive three-volume biography of Joseph Stalin by American historian and Princeton Professor of History Stephen Kotkin.Originally published in November 2014 by Penguin Random House: Hardcover (ISBN 978-1594203794) and Kindle and as an audiobook in December 2014 by Recorded Books. "[11], The Great Purges are covered in all their horror and the author provides a detailed account of how Stalin was responsible for their initiation and course and that his inner circle were accomplices, sometimes willing and sometimes due to self-preservation. He is also a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In Stalin, Stephen Kotkin offers a biography that, at long last, is equal to this shrewd, sociopathic, charismatic dictator in all his dimensions. [a][1] The second volume, Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941, was published in 2017 by Penguin Random House. David Brandenberger writes, "According to Kotkin, Stalin was the paradoxical embodiment of the Bolshevik Revolution: an upstart driven by a fusion of Leninist vanguardism, political realism, and bureaucratic savvy. In a final coda, “If Stalin had died”, Kotkin plays “what-if-history” – a dangerous game for any historian. In this context, Kotkin argues persuasively that there was no contradiction between the Communist goal of world revolution and the dictator’s dedication to the revival of Russia’s great power status. 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