In Stalin: A Biography (Harvard University Press, 2004) Robert Service, Hoover distinguished visiting fellow, moves beyond the conventional views of previous biographers. As the author Simon Sebag Montefiore states in his review of the book: "Service revises every dimension of this multidimensional titan. His book emphasizes the importance of Marxist ideology, economics and Bolshevik culture. But it also rightly presents a human Stalin." He adds that "this outstanding biography of lightly worn authority, wide research and superb intuition will be read for decades."
Service explores the contradictions that Stalin exhibited, arguing that Stalin was more than the ruthless bureaucrat that many have labeled him. "If the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot are represented as having been 'animals,' 'monsters' or 'killing machines,' we shall never be able to discern their successors," says Service. "Stalin in many ways behaved as a 'normal human being. In fact he was very far from being 'normal.'" Going back to the Russian ruler's childhood Service draws on previously uncovered archives and personal testimonies to explain the man Stalin became. He then scrutinizes the leader that Stalin became and the legacy he left behind.
Service is a fellow of the British Academy and St. Anthony's College at Oxford University. He is the author of the acclaimed Lenin: A Biography and A History of Modern Russia (both from Harvard University Press).
Stalin: A Biography
by Robert Service
ISBN: 0-674-01697-1 $29.95 paperback
760 pages March 2005