YOUNG STALIN by Simon Sebag Montefiore reviewed by Orlando Figes. 1. ' Stalin,' recalls the Menshevik politician Nikolai Sukhanov in his winning memoirs of. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Russian historian and author Montefiore presents an exciting, exemplary biography of the nondescript peasant boy. Young Stalin [Simon Sebag Montefiore] on musicmarkup.info *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This revelatory account unveils how Stalin became Stalin.
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THE FIRST IN-DEPTH BIOGRAPHY BASED ON EXPLOSIVE NEW DOCUMENTS FROM RUSSIA'S SECRET ARCHIVES EDVARD RADZINSKY TRANSLAT. This revelatory account unveils how Stalin became Stalin, examining his shadowy journey from obscurity to power—from master historian Simon Sebag. First published: 04 March musicmarkup.info _x · Read the full text. About. Related; Information. ePDF PDF · PDF · ePDF PDF.
Mother, Ekaterine Stalin's birth registration from the church records of Gori. He was their third child, but the previous two had died in infancy. The family found themselves living in poverty. Besarion also became violent towards his family. He was hospitalised in Tiflis for several months, and sustained a lifelong disability to his left arm.
She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity. If he had annihilated those five families, there would definitely have been no Time of Troubles.
But Ivan the Terrible would execute someone and then spend a long time repenting and praying. God got in his way in this matter. He ought to have been still more decisive! Moskovskie novosti, no. Primary source: K. Zelinsky's contemporary record of the event. It was published in English in Stalin and the Literary Intelligentsia,. Kemp-Welch, Basingstoke and London, pp. If, against all expectation, Germany finds itself in a difficult situation then she can be sure that the Soviet people will come to Germany's aid and will not allow Germany to be strangled.
The Soviet Union wants to see a strong Germany and we will not allow Germany to be thrown to the ground. It cannot be otherwise. If now there is not a communist government in Paris, this is only because Russia has no an army which can reach Paris in Said in April, , as quoted in Conversations with Stalin by Milovan Djilas I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.
Text online in Russian. Variant loose translation: The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. Our Chuvash were the same. The Russian tsars always used them for their bodyguards. How many divisions has he got? Said sarcastically to Pierre Laval in , in response to being asked whether he could do anything with Russian Catholics to help Laval win favour with the Pope, to counter the increasing threat of Nazism; as quoted in The Second World War by Winston Churchill vol.
So the bastard's dead? Too bad we didn't capture him alive! Said in April — On hearing of Hitler's suicide, as quoted in The Memoirs of Georgy Zhukov Does Djilas, who is himself a writer, not know what human suffering and the human heart are?
Can't he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometers through blood and fire and death has fun with a wench or takes some trifle? In response to complaints about the rapes and looting committed by the Red Army during the Second World War, as quoted in Conversations with Stalin by Milovan Djilas , p.
Your ancestors existed before the Romans and the Turks. Religion has nothing to do with nationality and statehood… the question of religious beliefs must be kept well in mind, must be handled with great care, because the religious feelings of the people must not be offended. These feelings have been cultivated in the people for many centuries, and great patience is called for on this question, because the stand towards it is important for the compactness and unity of the people. Perepiska, , p. Tsar Alexander reached Paris.
Said to an American diplomat who remarked how grateful it must be to see Russian troops in Berlin. Quoted in Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger I know that after my death a pile of rubbish will be heaped on my grave, but the wind of History will sooner or later sweep it away without mercy.
God is on your side? Is He a Conservative? The Devil's on my side, he's a good Communist.
I trust no one, not even myself. Her response was "That's why you turned out so well". Source: Edvard Radzinsky, p. Problems of Leninism, August edition The State is a machine in the hands of the ruling class for suppressing the resistance of its class enemies. Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution.
To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular. Marx and Engels pursued their activities in the pre-revolutionary period we have the proletarian revolution in mind , when developed imperialism did not yet exist, in the period of the proletarians' preparation for revolution, in the period when the proletarian revolution was not yet an immediate practical inevitability.
But Lenin, the disciple of Marx and Engels, pursued his activities in the period of developed imperialism, in the period of the unfolding proletarian revolution, when the proletarian revolution had already triumphed in one country, had smashed bourgeois democracy and had ushered in the era of proletarian democracy, the era of the Soviets.
The mortal sin of the Second International was not that it pursued at that time the tactics of utilising parliamentary forms of struggle, but that it overestimated the importance of these forms, that it considered them virtually the only forms; and that when the period of open revolutionary battles set in and the question of extra-parliamentary forms of struggle came to the fore, the parties of the Second International turned their backs on these new tasks, refused to shoulder them.
The Party must absorb all the best elements of the working class, their experience, their revolutionary spirit, their selfless devotion to the cause of the proletariat.
But in order that it may really be the armed detachment, the Party must be armed with revolutionary theory, with a knowledge of the laws of the movement, with a knowledge of the laws of revolution. Without this it will be incapable of directing the struggle of the proletariat, of leading the proletariat.
It scarcely needs proof that systematic work by the Party as one whole, and the directing of the struggle of the working class, would be impossible without putting these principles into effect. Leninism in questions of organisation is the unswerving application of these applications of these principles. The Party is the principle guiding force within the class of the proletarians and among the organisations of that class.
But it does not by any means follow from this that the Party can be regarded as an end in itself, as a self-sufficient force. The Party is not only the highest form of class association of the proletarians; it is at the same time an instrument in the hands of the proletariatfor achieving the dictatorship, when that has not yet been achieved and for consolidating and expanding the dictatorship when it has already been achieved.
The Party could not have risen so high in importance and could not have exerted its influence over all other forms of organisations of the proletariat, if the latter had not been confronted with the question of power, if the conditions of imperialism, the inevitability of wars, and the existence of a crisis had not yet demanded the concentration of all the forces of the proletariat at one point, the gathering of all the threads of the revolutionary movement in one spot in order to overthrow the bourgeoisie and to achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The proletariat needs the Party first of all as its General Staff, which it must have for the successful seizure of power. It scarcely needs proof that without a party capable of rallying around itself the mass organisations of the proletariat, and of centralising the leadership of the entire movement during the progress of the struggle , the proletariat in Russia could not have established its revolutionary dictatorship.
But iron discipline in the Party is inconceivable without unity of will, without complete and absolute unity of action on the part of all members of the Party. This does not mean, of course, that the possibility of conflicts of opinion within the Party is thereby precluded. On the contrary, iron discipline does not preclude but presupposes criticism and conflict of opinion within the Party.
Least of all does it mean that discipline must be "blind. But after a conflict of opinion has been closed, after criticism has been exhausted and a decision has been arrived at, unity of will and unity of action of all Party members are the necessary conditions without which neither Party unity nor iron discipline in the Party is conceivable.
Our Party could not have emerged on to the broad highway, it could not have seized power and organised the dictatorship of the proletariat, it could not have emerged victorious from the civil war, if it had had within its ranks people like Martov and Dan, Potresov and Axelrod.
Our Party succeeded in achieving internal unity and unexampled cohesion of its ranks primarily because it was able to in good time to purge itself of the opportunist pollution, because it was able to rid its ranks of the Liquidators and Mensheviks. Proletarian parties develop and become strong by purging themselves of opportunists and reformists, social-imperialists and social-chauvinists, social-patriots and social-pacifists.
Variants: One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic. A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. When one dies, it is a tragedy. When a million die, it is a statistic. When thousands die it's statistics. Death of a million is a statistic,' commonly attributed by English-language dictionaries to Josef Stalin. Ich kann das nicht so schrecklich finden! Der Tod eines Menschen: das ist eine Katastrophe. Hunderttausend Tote: das ist eine Statistik!
I can't find it so terrible!
The death of one man: that is a catastrophe. One hundred thousand deaths: that is a statistic! Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god. According to Wiesenthal, Eichmann had been asked by another member of the Reich Main Security Office during WWII what they should answer would they be questioned after the war about the millions of dead Jews they were responsible for, to which Eichmann according to his own testimony had replied with the quote. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent because they are animated by fanatical conviction.
Death solves all problems — no man, no problem. This actually comes from the novel Children of the Arbat by Anatoly Rybakov. We will hang the capitalists with the rope that they sell us. It has also been believed that Lenin may have expressed that the profit motive cannot be undone in that "If we were to hang the last capitalist, another would suddenly appear to sell us the rope".
Experts on the Soviet Union reject the rope quote as spurious. However, it is established that Lenin did remark on the same underlying theme even if not in reference to rope , namely, that capitalists in their addiction to high profits could not help themselves from selling things to a socialist state, even if it was against their own long-term interests by strengthening an enemy; Edvard Radzinsky covers it in his discussion of Lenin's comments on the "deaf-mutes" in Radzinsky's biography of Stalin.
Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas? Often attributed to Stalin, there is not a single source which show that Stalin said this at any given time. But Simon Montefiore's Young Stalin explores why he didn't. Young Stalin fills in the period from Stalin's birth in to the success of the Bolsheviks in , only touched on in Montefiore's earlier biography, The Court of the Red Tsar. The book attempts to explain from whence the brutal megalomaniacal dictator of both Soviet and Western myth emerged, and Oh, the "what ifs" of history - if only Stalin had obeyed his mother's wishes and become a priest or his father's and become a cobbler.
The book attempts to explain from whence the brutal megalomaniacal dictator of both Soviet and Western myth emerged, and I think succeeds pretty well.
Stalin was a complicated man. At one moment, a vicious thug; at another, a serious intellectual; and at another, a creditable romantic poet Montefiore prefaces each section with one of Soselo's one of Stalin's many aliases poems. He was also an unrepentant womanizer, neglectful and tyrannical father, and an uncompromising true believer in Marxism and Lenin. Montefiore is quite good at recreating the Georgian milieu where Stalin grew up and the dysfunctional family he was born into.
The Caucasus was a tribal culture steeped in machismo, honor and violence.
Home was dominated by an abusive, alcoholic father and an abusive, smothering mother. Conditions only exacerbated by the equally abusive environs of Tbilisi's streets and the seminary where Stalin studied.
Most would have ended up as many of Stalin's friends did: Unfortunately for millions, Stalin was too intelligent, too ambitious and too able to be satisfied with that destiny, and he found an outlet for his energies in the revolutionary groups that flourished in Tsarist Russia.
I'm still not sure why Stalin became a Marxist. Montefiore focuses on a straight narrative of events without indulging in too much psychoanalysis regarding motives and inspirations.
Admirable in many ways but I would have welcomed a bit more speculation as long as it's clearly identified as such. The reader should also be aware that they'll need a pretty good background in late Tsarist history or they'll get lost and frustrated amid all the Russian, Georgian, Ossetian, et al. Fortunately, I'm not entirely ignorant of the period but, even so, I've been motivated to hunt up the Service and Conquest bios of Stalin and Lenin so I can get a better appreciation of the period.
With that in mind, I would definitely recommend this work to the interested. View all 3 comments. In order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size, the author and publishers have decided not to include the notes in the paperback.
We hope readers will agree that, for most, the balance of convenience is best served by this policy. Apr 19, Zorka Zamfirova rated it it was amazing. Audiobook, moj omiljeni format. Ovo je za one koji se interesuju za fenomen Staljin. Feb 23, Tamara Zargaryan rated it really liked it Shelves: During high school I recall having a group conversation with fellow students about what we would do if power was thrust upon us by events.
It was or '69 and we were, however naif, serious. Young Stalin covers his life until the revolution in , a topic substantially veiled until the breakup of the Soviet Union. The little I knew about Stalin before reading this book was from two, unsympathetic, sides: This, a detailed and original account, provides a much fuller and much more impressive picture of the man. Although, like Hitler, one of the bloodiest dictators of the 20th century, Stalin as portrayed here makes sense and comes across as understandable.
His flaws are explained: Otherwise, and to my surprise, Stalin comes across as a polylingual, classically trained intellectual, reading Plato, in Greek, and becoming an atheist by reading Darwin--both in early adolescence.
He was, throughout life, a studious reader and a capable writer. Sadly, and despite his conceits, he was never much of a military leader, nor, because of his paranoia, much of a good judge of others. Just as Stalin comes across better herein than usually represented, so does Lenin come across worse, there being, in the author's opinion, not much difference between the two of them, Lenin being potentially just as bloodthirsty.
Jul 16, Susan rated it really liked it Shelves: Everyone has heard of Stalin. The Russian dictator, with the big moustache who was responsible for the deaths of millions of his own people. The man who took over the Russia Soviet Union from Lenin and lead Russia through World War Two but at the casualty rate of 27 million Russian people; men, women and children.
This book is based on ten years of research on his younger years, his brutal household alcoholic Everyone has heard of Stalin. This book is based on ten years of research on his younger years, his brutal household alcoholic father and strict mother , his schooling years and then his young adult years.
Stalin was quite the man-whore during his younger years but this book describes his years as a street tudent priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary, and the merciless politician to a dictator. I cannot wait to start reading Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar 4. Sep 19, Jane Routley rated it really liked it.
I love biographies. When I was a kid there were a series of uplifitng books for children that I loved with titles like "Young Florence Nightingale. In fact is was hard for an old lefty like me to realize just what a vicious bunch of scumbags the Bolsheviks were and how in a lot of ways they were very like Al Quieda are now.
They even planned to crash a bi-plane full of explosives into the Winter Palace at one stage. They were proud to be terrorists and happy to k I love biographies. They were proud to be terrorists and happy to kill innocent bystanders for what they saw as the greater good. I never thought Stalin was a nice guy, of course, but this terrific biography made him human and made it clear just how a guy like him comes to be.
Stalin was a gangster, a ruthless perpertrator of bank-jobs and protection rackets i. If nothing else it was an exciting life.
This biography was aterrific read. I was also pleased to see how much of a role strong capable young women played in the sucess of the Russian Revolution even if the ideals were hijacked along the way. Dec 21, tasha rated it really liked it Shelves: This seems a very well-researched book. I learned much about this guy both as a person and as a political. I preferred the parts which focused more on the person rather than the politics but clearly, they can't be separated so overall a really interesting read.
A really good history lesson as I feel I have a much better understanding now of the politics and the lead-up to Stalin's reign. I plan on moving on to Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.
Jan 14, Patrick Peterson rated it really liked it Shelves: February Listened to this on Audio CD. Very well read by James Adams. Paints Stalin as much more intellectual than most describe him.
One cause: Trotsky was a powerful writer, who totally misjudged and demeaned Stalin and has had much better press. Another reason, socialists who still love the idea of socialism, find it very hard to justify and explain how the Soviet Union could fall prey to this man Stalin, had to paint him as an e February Another reason, socialists who still love the idea of socialism, find it very hard to justify and explain how the Soviet Union could fall prey to this man Stalin, had to paint him as an evil no-nothing, not a product of the system he, Lenin, Marx, Trotsky and the rest created.
Did you know the city of Vienna in was where ALL the following people lived: The author notes all or most of these famous and infamous individuals, especially Hitler, for obvious reasons. But of course he missed the too-little known, but most powerful ideological enemies of Stalin and the other Marxists: The Austrian economists: Mises had not yet written his famous article, then later turned into his book, Socialism, destroying the idea that a pure socialist society could be a rational or thriving one, but rather, would be reduced to the lowest form of survival.
Stalin was in Vienna in , at the behest of Lenin, to write a position paper for the Bolshevik party of Russia on the "nationalities" issue. Mises had just finished his great book: Theory of Money and Credit, which had won him high recognition in the realm of economic theory and government policy. He had probably just begun his own study of the subject Stalin was working on, but from a very different perspective.
His book was to be published in , just after WWI: Nation, State and Economy. Too bad they never met. The world, and in particular, the Russian people, and individuals of nationalities later conquered, subjugated and in many places annihilated by Stalin could only have been better off if Mises and Stalin met. But additional information about his studiousness, his range and depth of reading and discussing great books, his writing, his powerful polemics, his singing voice and his poetry are all fully revealed.
He was actually a very promising and published poet in a country, Georgia, which had a passion for poetry and poets. But what the book did not dwell enough on, in my view, was what was it about Marxism-Leninism that stirred Stalin's highest passion, held his resolve through exile and near extinction, and quenched his thirst for knowledge?
This is the key issue to me, what a biography of one of the biggest mass murderers of all time should explore in depth. Many, many clues are given.
But too many are stray, not focused on this key issue. It was also interesting to me that the author, Simon Sebag Montefiore, classified Stalin as a "killer in only Hitler's league" when, by the numbers, Hitler was probably much the lesser at least regarding their own countrymen , but Mao unmentioned probably beat him out by many millions of murders.
See the works of Rummel - Death by Government, The Black Book of Communism by several authors and other books for the full grisly facts. Another curious aspect of the book was the author's constant reference to many, many "memoirs" of key people in Stalin's life. Virtually ALL the main folks in his life, including his own mother and the lowest and youngest Siberian lover's memoirs were referenced. It's either incredible scholarship or the strangest thing I have ever heard.
Can all these memoirs actually be real??? I do like the way the author fairly often notes that the particular memoir he uses could or could not be taken at face value. Background motives and credibility of memoir or history writers referenced were questioned and seemingly used appropriately. That sounded good to me, though I am far from an expert on this subject. An inconsistency in the book: So called because they took their Mauser pistols everywhere they went and were not shy about using them.
A good part of the book: It smashed the minor myth that the Tsarist government was as totalitarian as the communists. Not even close when you compare the sentences and harshness of the imprisonments and exiles in Tsarist vs.
Communist Russia. A point I pondered during and after reading the book: Why were the police and Okhrana so inept in actually prosecuting and putting away Stalin and his compatriots of the very real crimes they committed: The book could have asked and explored the question: Was there anything the Tsar's regime could have done to prevent Stalin from turning into a communist, or continuing and strengthening his Bolshevik resolve during the years of his youth? The exile punishments certainly did not work well achieve their purpose with Stalin nor on many if not most of his compatriots Lenin, Trotsky, etc.
Still another curiosity of the book was the author's lack of significant description of how Lenin got the German government to arrange the infamous sealed train to Petrograd St. Petersburg in , during WWI. Granted this is a book about Stalin and not Lenin. But still, this was a pretty momentous occurrence, since Lenin was the motive force and strategist, behind the Bolsheviks and their upcoming putsch at that time.
Lenin, Stalin and the other top Bolsheviks had later to deal with how to make Lenin not appear to be seen as a traitor to Russia, with his coming, via Germany, the WWI enemy!
There was no reference at all to the very readable and accessible "Lenin in Zurich" by Solzhenitsyn, which dealt with the Bolshevik sympathizing businessman ugh - beware of this type!!! Highly recommended ancillary reading. The book on CD is fairly long - 13 CDs, and some parts were a little tough to follow - how many Russian names can you distinguish and keep straight, with all the intrigue that was going on, especially when each Russian usually had at least two different names.
Heck, just telling Kamo from Kaminovsky was tough enough.
But the narrator was really good and if you want to know about how Stalin came to be in the top three in the Soviet Union during the revolution, and destined to beat out Trotsky to later become 1, this book seems quite good. Feb 10, Pamela rated it liked it Shelves: Most of this book is an endless repetition of Stalin's escapades as a gangster, bank robber, fundraiser for Lenin and womanizer. It does deal with his early youth in his home village of Gori, his poor and abusive family background and his years at the seminary also abusive.
The rest is one continual episode of gangsterism, and brutal behavior after another as he grows to be, well. Names become a befuddlement after awhile and not really worth keeping track of.
Most of them wind up dead Most of this book is an endless repetition of Stalin's escapades as a gangster, bank robber, fundraiser for Lenin and womanizer.
Most of them wind up dead eventually in the Terror after Stalin becomes ruler of all Russia. The same with all of his various aliases. We are told about his every assignation with "buxom peasant women" and several referred to as a "highly sexed Marxist temptress". Interspersed in all of this are some actual interesting facts - meeting Lenin, developing a strong and violent revolutionary fervor, his sincere dedication to Marxist-Leninist philosophy, etc.
Part Five is especially important as it deals with the Revolution itself and how he actually became so highly placed in it. The most interesting parts were the reasons why he became such a favorite of Lenin's. Once you understand the background of these men, it's easy to see why so much death followed them.
Dec 06, George rated it really liked it Shelves: A good, close-up look at Stalin from his birth up to age 39 Montefiore has done a superb job at providing details of his family life, childhood, early life in Georgia, his activities for the Bolsheviks, his imprisonments, time in Siberia, and his involvement in the beginnings of the Revolution.
In contrast, Stephen Kotkin's 'Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power' covers the same time period with a much wider focus - more on the historical situation and less on Stalin himself.
Kotkin A good, close-up look at Stalin from his birth up to age 39 Kotkin and Montefiore's books make a good pair - as they complement each other. I recommend 'Young Stalin' to readers who are interested in a close-up look at Stalin prior to the Revolution.
Aug 10, John David rated it really liked it Shelves: The life of the young Joseph Stalin born Ioseb Besarionis Jughashvili is probably very much like you would think it was, given what we know of his adult life.
The streets of his native town of Gori, located in modern-day Georgia, required young boys to hone their cruelty and brutality early on. Despite getting into dozens of fights, he was also exceedingly bright. From a The life of the young Joseph Stalin born Ioseb Besarionis Jughashvili is probably very much like you would think it was, given what we know of his adult life. At the age of 15, he entered the Seminary in the Georgia capital of Tiflis, where his native language of Georgian was looked down on with derision by his pro-Tzarist Russian Orthodox priests.
Most importantly of all, they read Marx. In , he was kicked out of seminary for missing his exams and never returned. And so starts a fascinating life, full of violence, political intrigue, and paranoia. Montefiore is careful to never portray Stalin as a rank ideologue, though. He was a vicious gangster with a multitude of talents and a cunning mind: Once Stalin actually meets Lenin in , Montefiore portrays the relationships as very much one in which Lenin calls the ideological shots and Stalin is simply there to agree and continue to raise money.
Lenin wanted to get Bolsheviks elected to the Duma, where Stalin thought that this was a waste of time. In a few brisk pages, it details the sometimes gory and tragic, and other times completely pedestrian fates of the more minor characters that had introduced in the book. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the terror and cruelty: Montefiore goes out of his way to repeatedly point out that this revelation, this interview, or this biographical sketch was only recently found upon the opening of certain Soviet archives.
But being able to present afresh the allure of the new and unvarnished seems to be something historians are always quick to point out.
Whether the psychological portrait that Montefiore paints is based on information that is either new or dated has no impact on his ability to tell his story — and he tells it like a talented African griot. Oct 31, Anna Baillie-Karas rated it it was amazing. Outstanding biography of the man who became a monster. Highly recommended. Oct 10, Tomq rated it it was ok. The subject matter is intrinsically fascinating.
Stalin grows up in relative poverty, born of an abusive alcoholic father, and a manipulative, promiscuous and resourceful mother. His mother, Keke, harbors the greatest ambitions for her third son, having lost the previous two in their infancy.
An atheist from a young age, "Soso Djugashvili" Stalin , encouraged by Keke, is learning to become a priest at the seminary. Despite this mismatch, he is studious, an avid reader of Tolstoy or Victor Hugo; The subject matter is intrinsically fascinating. Despite this mismatch, he is studious, an avid reader of Tolstoy or Victor Hugo; he understands the importance of education. But he is also a thug and a bully; he develops into a fanatic believer in communism and a careless womanizer.
He engages in criminal revolutionary activities for a couple decades, including ordering bank robberies, murders, rackets; at the same time, he learns to maneuver in political circles, to win allies, to eliminate rivals, to argue his views, and to hide from the secret police. For young Stalin, criminal ultra-violence, political activity, unrestrained personal ambition, and fanatical devotion to the revolution, are all complementary facets of a single unified life, of just one struggle.
This drive towards total power is, according to Montefiore, the product of a combination of circumstances including personality, family, friends, and the particular atmosphere of the time and place.
It seems an extraordinarily engaging story when summarized into a couple paragraphs, and you'd think it would comfortably fill over pages. Alas, after pages I was so exhausted by Montefiore's awful writing that I began skimming through the chapters and resumed exhaustive reading only around page There are three major problems: The lack of structure. What structure there is parts, chapters, even paragraphs was slapped onto a massive, shapeless blob of text.
There is no inherent structure, only a superficial organization of a seemingly huge collection of notes. Chapter titles very loosely correlate to their contents; sometimes only two or three pages of a chapter bear any relationship to the chapter's title.
As a consequence, this reads more like a timeline of a person's activities than like a compelling portrait of that person. The lack of historical context.