Ronald Suny’s recent biography of the young Stalin, Stalin: Passage to Revolution (Princeton, 2020) covers “Soso” Jughashvili’s life up to the 1917 Revolution. Suny provides a wealth of detail as to the young Stalin’s life, and he embeds that life story in the broader story of Bolshevism. The Stalin that emerges from Suny’s portrait was skilled at navigating Party in-fighting and effective at speaking both to workers and to intellectuals. This biography does much to make sense of the later Stalin, the perpetrator of the Purges.
Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.