Cover image for Stalin in power : the revolution from above, 1928-1941
Stalin in power : the revolution from above, 1928-1941
Tucker, Robert C.
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Publication Information:
New York : Norton, 1990.
Physical Description:
xix, 707 pages ; 25 cm
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DK268.S8 T86 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book forms the second volume of Tucker's biography of Stalin, the first volume of which, Stalin as Revolutionary, was recently reissued by Norton in the United Kingdom.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

According to Tucker's massive biography, Stalin, by the mid-1920s, had come to fancy himself capable of being a state builder at least on a par with Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and, especially, the just-deceased Lenin. While the general secretary recognized in the collectivization of agriculture--as prelude to industrialization--the area in which he could realize his historic ambition, he would accomplish his task through a calculated act of terror and dispossession of the peasants. From his reading of the Russian past, such were the means necessary to make his revolution "from above" successful where others had failed. So the deed was done, and in 1934 the 17th Party Congress gathered to praise de profundis the genius who pulled it off. Two events belied the obeisance paid to Stalin: a cabal tried to replace him with Sergei Kirov, and 200 delegates actually voted against him. In a brilliant psychological analysis, Tucker treats this episode as the fulcrum, in Stalin's mind, for solving his political problems. Hence, Stalin set up the "judicial" machinery of the Terror in the summer of 1934 and, probably in emulation of Hitler's "blood purge" of the same season, put the guillotine in motion by arranging for Kirov's assassination in December 1934. Strangely enough, the crimes for which the defendants of the subsequent trials were accused--directing a treasonous plot to kill leaders, delivering the USSR's peoples to the heel of German fascism, covering up their heinous intent by feigned loyalty to the Stalinist state--all these ghastly things were true, albeit by an inverted logic. Tucker makes his points like a prosecutor ticking off facts in an airtight case; this lengthy brief caps the author's scholarly career and robs Stalin of his lifelong wish: to have history remember him as Russia's greatest leader. Notes, bibliography; to be indexed. ~--Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Many Western historians portray Stalin as a pragmatic, if disastrously blundering revolutionary who had no overarching vision of where Russia was heading under his leadership. Not so, argues Tucker in this massive, provocative history; Stalin acted with forethought. Driven by a need to prove himself ``a second and greater Lenin,'' he boldly and confidently implemented his collectivist schemes, backed by a policy of terror and accomplished through the seizure of peasant lands and households, mass murder, forced resettlement and prison camps. His state-directed, state-enforced ``revolution from above,'' in Tucker's ( Stalin as Revolutionary ) view, was a throwback to the state-building of the earliest Muscovite grand princes. The author illumines the ``Stalinist culture'' the dictator promoted in everything from movies to ``folk'' songs, with its master themes of heroism and communal uplift. This gripping history is crucial reading for anyone seeking to understand Stalin or contemporary Soviet affairs. Photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This remarkable sequel to Stalin As Revolutionary, 1879-1929 ( LJ 9/1/73) is at once the best of Tucker's many books and arguably the finest work in the burgeoning field of Stalin studies. The author's achievement synthesizes recent Soviet revelations, better-known sources on Stalin, and personal interviews into a major work of biography. Tucker's Stalin is neither simply mad nor opportunistic, but the methodical ``Iosif Grozny,'' an idealized Ivan the Terrible, and, tragically for millions, one whose terror far surpassed that of any czar. Tucker's depiction of Stalin and the terror machine is persuasive; but more controversial is the assertion that the purges served a ``cathartic function'' of exculpating Stalin for his own conspiracy against the revolution. The psychological dimension coexists with the political. Thus, Stalin's decimation of foreign Communists is both an expression of xenophobia and preparation for the 1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact. Whatever one's judgment of author or subject, this book can be safely recommended for all academic and public libraries.-- Zachary T. Irwin, Penn State - Behrend Coll. , Erie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.