From Soso to Stalin

A search for Stalin biographies on WorldCat turns up hundreds of volumes written or translated to tens of languages. It’s virtually impossible to account for them all. Yet, despite them all, half of Stalin’s life—his life before 1917—remains the most understudied. And the most misunderstood. How did this  impoverished, idealistic youth from the provinces of tsarist Russia becoming a cunning and fearsome outlaw, and eventually one of the twentieth century’s most ruthless dictators. There’s no better person to deal with Stalin’s younger days, his upbringing and life in Georgia, and his conversion to Bolshevism than Ron Suny. So here’s Ron Suny on how Soso became Stalin.


Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan and professor emeritus of political science and history at the University of Chicago. His written many books on the history of the Soviet Union and the South Caucasus. His new book is Stalin: Passage to Revolution published by Princeton University Press.


Dina Vierny, “Camarade Staline,” Chants du Goulag, 1975.