Simon Sebag Montefiore
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Based on ten years' astonishing new research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic, dangerous boy became a student priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary, and the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image: How Stalin became Stalin.
archival research with me. Gia Sulkanishvili helped in small and big matters, and as ever I owe him much. Nick Tabatadze, the head of Rustavi-2, the Georgian television station, gave encouragement and help; his station’s TV report helped me find more witnesses and sources. Thanks to Tamara Megrilishvili, who let me advertise for sources/witnesses in her bookshop, Prospero’s Books, the best between Moscow and Jerusalem; to Leka Basilieia; in Gori, to the director of the Stalin Museum, Gaioz
OF THE WORLD—LIVED AND STUDIED IN THE EX-THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY FROM 1 SEPTEMBER 1894 TO 29 MAY 1899 LEADING ILLEGAL WORKERS’ CIRCLES IN TBILISI. * “To Archimandrite Serafim, Very Reverend Rector of the Tiflis Orthodox Seminary from 2nd Grade student Josef Djugashvili: Your Reverence knows all about the pitiful circumstances of my mother who takes care of me. My father has not provided for me in three years. This is his way of punishing me for continuing my studies against his wishes . . . It is
the fortress-prison of Metekhi, which Iremashvili called the “Bastille of Tiflis.” High, up cobbled lanes on Holy Mountain, stood the white marble church (where Keke today lies buried among poets and princes), radiant and pristine. Tiflis was a city of 160,000–30 percent Russians, 30 percent Armenians and 26 per cent Georgians, with the rest a smattering of Jews, Persians and Tartars. There were six Armenian newspapers, five Russian and four Georgian. Tiflis’s workers mainly laboured in the
replied the sleepyhead, falling into another slumber. Stalin “went to him, rolled up cigarette-papers, stuck them between Pimen’s toes—and lit them. Pimen’s toes were burned and he leaped up. We laughed!”* Stalin sat and read socialistic pamphlets or novels to the sisters and seamstresses, says Sashiko, “or he would tell jokes, play the fool or tease sleepy Pimen again.” Once when the girls’ parents were visiting from Kutaisi, “Stalin sang a romantic song with such powerful emotion that all were
Absolute”), Rozalia Zemliachka, Alexinsky and a girl named Ludmilla Stal. But there were also many Mensheviks from his past, such as Devdariani. It was a small world. * Stalin’s career in Baku is shadowy, but the memoirs of the Mauserists give us helpful clues. They could not be used in the Soviet era, especially during Stalin’s dictatorship, and are mostly unpublished, but they remain in the archives. * In his first kidnapping, Nageyev’s ransom was 10,000 gold roubles—or his kidnappers