Stalin’s Curse (Review)

I’m often asked why I enjoy studying history so much.  I frequently answer the question byStalin-1902 saying that I really love great stories.  What more compelling and thrilling tales can be found than are the accounts of events and people that actually happened and changed civilization?   I also mention that I like to follow current events.  What better way to sort through the blathering gossip and propaganda that passes for news these days than to view current events through the lens of history?  So, when I encounter a book that promises in depth information about an important historical leader, I can hardly wait to read it.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERARobert Gellately’s Stalin’s Curse:  Battling For Communism In War And Cold War is one of those rare books that provides insightful information at the root of many of today’s world problems.  Even a cursory skimming of the book will reinforce the importance of a person to resist becoming an advocate and true believer of political opinion and parties.  If a person reads one of the many books about Adolf Hitler, the reader is warned against reactionary ultra-conservatism.  Reading Gellately’s book will enlighten one about extreme Communism.

The unbalanced, egotistical man, Joseph Stalin, was far more sinister than his fellow leaders ever imagined.  Right away, Stalin hijacked a political movement that was designed to improve Russia.  His psychopathic machinations terrorized Mother Russia immediately at the outset of his regime.  Then, as the Soviet Union barely survived the onslaught of the Nazi Wehrmacht against the country, Stalin captured the momentum and snowballed his absolute power to incredible strength.

In foreign affairs, the poker-faced dictator successfully hoodwinked western leaders as to his plans and methods.  Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Winston Churchill were unknowingly trumped in spite of and because of their most sincere efforts to find common ground with the Soviet Union.

Stalin’s cleverness and skill only increased when the postwar map of Europe was redrawn, mostly in Stalin’s favor. Furthermore, Stalin’s extreme hatred of Germans played a key role in the make up of postwar Europe.

Stalin-gulagWhile Stalin manipulated international events, he was most forceful regarding domestic control.  Even the slightest disagreement with Stalin could result in deportation to one of the infamous gulags and/or execution.  Stalin ruthlessly dealt with ethnic minorities to a more shocking degree than we have previously known.  His fanatical attention to food and industrial quotas triggered further suffering and death.

The more I read of Gellately’s insightful book, the more deeply I understood exactly why we must never tolerate the concentration of power by small groups or popular leaders.  Charismatic appeal to emotion will eventually lead to unsavory results.  In Stalin’s case, the tables swiftly and irreversably turned on the Soviet Union’s citizens. Stalin’s pursuit of personal power was every bit as horrifying as was that of Adolf Hitler. Except that it was more secretive and longer lasting.

Technically, Stalin’s Curse is excellent.  I give the author high marks for extensive research and presentation of facts. Gellately’s writing style is not only reader friendly, but is compelling, as well.  The book is a real page turner.  I was instantly drawn into the intrigue and drama as it was presented. I give the book an A-plus.

{ Stalin’s Curse: Battling For Communism In War And Cold War Copyright 2013 by Robert Gellately; published by Alfred A. Knopf ISBN: 978-0-307-26915-7 }


The Blue Jay of Happiness puzzles over this ironic statement by Joseph Stalin, “Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union.”


About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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