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The Weakness of the Despot

David Remnick

The New Yorker

10 min

Essay

11 March 2022

Original Content 

Stephen Kotkin is one of our most profound and prodigious scholars of Russian history. His masterwork is a biography of Joseph Stalin. So far he has published two volumes—“Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and “Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941.” A third volume will take the story through the Second World War; Stalin’s death, in 1953; and the totalitarian legacy that shaped the remainder of the Soviet experience. Taking advantage of long-forbidden archives in Moscow and beyond, Kotkin has written a biography of Stalin that surpasses those by Isaac Deutscher, Robert Conquest, Robert C. Tucker, and countless others.

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