Simon Sebag Montefiore
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Based on ten years' astonishing new research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic, dangerous boy became a student priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary, and the merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image: How Stalin became Stalin.
concentrate on the greater stage of Russia itself. On 31 August, the deputy prosecutor wrote to the Baku governor: “Jailed prisoner J. V. Djugashvili petitions to allow him to marry Baku resident Stefania Petrovskaya. Does Your Excellency have any objections to my allowing Djugashvili’s request?” Whether out of sloppy paperwork, bureaucratic mistake or deliberate malice, it was only on 23 September that Bailov Prison’s governor received this: “Prisoner Djugashvili is permitted to marry Stefania
still had to pay a considerable sum—forty roubles a year—and buy the surplice uniform. Keke did not mind: the “happiest mother in the world” returned to Gori and started to sew to raise the money. Egnatashvili and Davrichewy contributed to his fees. “A month later,” says Keke, “I saw Soso in the uniform of the seminarist and I cried so much out of happiness. I grieved very much too . . .” Having enrolled around 15 August 1894, Soso entered the seminary boarding-school and the wider world of the
FAMILY Vissarion “Beso” Djugashvili, cobbler, father Ekaterina “Keke” Geladze Djugashvili, mother STALIN, Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili, “Soso,” “Koba” GORI Yakov “Koba” Egnatashvili, Gori wrestling champion, merchant, possible father Ivan “Vaso” Egnatashvili, son of Yakov, lifelong friend of Stalin Alexander “Sasha” Egnatashvili, son of Yakov, courtier of Stalin, “the Rabbit” Damian Davrichewy, police officer of Gori and possible father Josef Davrichewy, son of Damian, Stalin’s
reached slave-owning society. We couldn’t stay awake and starting dozing off . . .” Yet Stalin’s anecdotes concealed the humiliating truth: Tskhakaya ordered him to write a Credo renouncing his heretical views. The Armenian read it and was satisfied. Seventy printed copies were distributed.* Stalin was forgiven, but Tskhakaya said he had to “rest” before he could receive a redemptive mission. 8 Soso shamelessly sponged off his friends. “If he visited some guy’s family,” recalled Mikheil
supposedly complained that his mother “chased first Stalin then Kurnatovsky.” It is claimed that Nadya said her mother had admitted sleeping with both. Her granddaughter Svetlana certainly writes that Olga “always had a soft spot for Stalin,” but “the children came to terms with this, the affairs sooner or later ended, family life went on.”* The affair sounds likely; if so, it was typical of its time. In the underground, the revolutionaries were, under a façade of prudishness, sexually