Book Review: Stalin-Volume I – Paradoxes of Power

The Book ‘Stalin-Paradoxes of Power’ is written by Stephen Kotkin who is a Professor of History at Princeton.

This Book is the first of a multi-volume series on Stalin and covers the period between 1878-1928.

Why Stalin?

Its slightly more than 100 years since the Russian revolution took place and most Indians don’t know or don’t care about it.

Yet, this revolution changed the world for next 70 odd years and impacted the lives of Billions of people.

Stalin, more than anyone else, bent the arc of history and would literally hold the power of life and death over billions of people.To my mind, he is one of the most fascinating characters from history (the other one is Mao !)

The author is considered to be one of the greatest historians alive and the book is truly a master class  of how history ought to be written-explaining context,motives,people,events etc

The Book goes into very deep minutiae and is exhaustive with thousands of notes which for a history buff like me is pure gold.

The scale of events in this period cover World War  I, the Russian revolution, the Russian Civil Wars, the Russia-Japan war, the Russia-Poland war etc.It’ shocking how many people died due to war, riots , anti-Jewish pogroms, diseases, famines,mass executions etc

This also brings home to me how lucky we are currently to be living in a free and a peaceful (for most parts) India.

Also, it is so important to understand that politics matters, even for investors who don’t want anything to do with politics.

If Buffett was born in Russia instead of US in 1930, he probably would have died of hunger or hanged from the nearest lamp pole for being a “capitalist dog” or “petit bourgeoisie” or a “class enemy” !

I would strongly recommend this Book only if you are interested in Stalin or the Russian Revolution or a very serious history buff.Not meant for everyone.

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