EPS Review #52 - The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin

Richard Lourie Counterpoint 1999

I have to admit that my favorite part of this book is its dedication: "To whatever spirit possessed me to write this book, may it be gone forever now." I also have to admit that I put it down for a few months in the middle. Not that it is a heavy slog -- it's actually quick and interesting. Probably it is still more interesting if you actually know the history of the era, and can have fun matching up fiction with reality. For me, a lot was new, like the amazing bungled assassination of Trotsky in Mexico. I liked Major Antonov, a tsarist agent with whom Trotsky collaborates -- that part seemed clearly made-up. Trotsky is not shown as a horrible one-dimensional madman. In fact, I wonder if he comes off as horrible as he ought to have done. There is a dramatic pull throughout the book, from the possible revelation of something really really awful that Stalin did, which Trotsky may discover while writing a bio of Stalin. I didn't guess it, anyway.