Friday, May 23, 2008

Comrades + William Wilberforce

Communism is hard to define, largely because of the "confusing legacy" of Marx, says Robert Service in this superb history . . .

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Young Stalin + Bright Earth

Born Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili, a sickly, pockmarked child with webbed toes, Stalin was beaten "like a dog" by his alcoholic father (known locally as "Crazy Beso") and mercilessly thrashed by his mother. When he asked her in old age why she hit him so much, she replied: "It didn't do you any harm." Oh yes it did, says Sebag Montefiore in this lively and accomplished account of Stalin's "gangsterish", pre-revolutionary youth . . .