The Court of the Red Tsar

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s chilling, superbly researched study of the Soviet dictator and his circle, in a Folio edition with stunning archive photography.

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‘An extraordinary book... For anyone fascinated by the nature of evil, and by the effects of absolute power on human relationships, this book will provide new insights on every page.’
  1. Anne Applebaum, Evening Standard

Written by the best-selling and prize-winning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar is a thrilling, intimate portrait of a dictator who ‘believed the solution to every human problem was death’, and the henchmen who presided over an era of mass murder in his name. Drawing on ground-breaking original research, Sebag Montefiore lays out in terrifying detail the intrigue, debauchery, paranoia and treachery inside the cloistered world of the Soviet Union’s ruling circle. With its fresh perspective on the way Stalin and his associates exercised power, both within and outside the Kremlin, this has become the definitive biography. The selection of photography is unique to this handsome two-volume Folio edition, portraying the figures within Stalin’s court and the enormity of war and oppression in the territories he ruled. It includes pictures from the David King Archive, one of the world’s leading collections of Soviet photography – some published for the first time. At a time when statues are once again being raised to Stalin in Russia, The Court of the Red Tsar is a chilling and timely read.

Bound in printed cloth

Set in Sirba with PAG Revolucion as display

920 pages in total

32 pages of black & white integrated photographs, 52 pages of colour and black & white plates

2 maps, 1 family tree

Printed slipcase

Ribbon markers

9½˝ x 6¼˝ 

‘Gripping and timely... a book based on extraordinary primary research. One of the few recent books on Stalinism that will be read in years to come. The devil is in the detail.’
  1. Robert Service, Guardian

The Folio edition of Stalin is vividly illustrated with more than 100 colour and black-and-white images, some published for the first time. Candid pictures of the ‘court’ – smiling portraits of Stalin with his family, and oligarchs holidaying at their dachas, oblivious of their approaching fate – sit alongside powerful images of famine, forced labour, show trials and secret policemen. There are socialist realist paintings and propaganda posters, pictures of military parades and peace conferences, and vivid war photography. Many of the images are drawn from the author’s own collection or from the David King Archive at the Tate – an astonishing trove of over 150,000 photographs and publications that King collected from the communist East over his lifetime. With a stark geometric cover design in Soviet constructivist style, and a glowering red-and-black portrait of Stalin on the slipcase, this is an exceptional edition of Sebag Montefiore’s study in tyranny.

With its tight focus on the private world of Stalin and his oligarchs, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar stands out from the many hundreds of books published on the dictator. The depth of research is extraordinary, based on files released by the Russian State Archive in 1999. Sebag Montefiore was granted exclusive access to unpublished memoirs and letters, and interviewed children, servants and associates of the Soviet inner circle. His vignettes of Kremlin life reveal Stalin’s ability to charm as well as inspire dread, his unexpected literary pretensions, and his perverse flashes of humanity: grief at his wife Nadya’s suicide, tenderness to his daughter Svetlana, and sentimentality in sparing childhood comrades from the torture chamber that awaited so many others. As the Soviet elite reckon with the Ukrainian Famine, the Great Terror and the Second World War, their personalities leap from the page: foreign secretary Molotov and his formidable wife; the depraved torturers Yezhov and Beria; and the ruthless, underestimated Krushchev. Stalin is the definitive account of the dictator, his court and the terrifying regime they ruled over.

Simon Sebag Montefiore is a leading historian, best known for his historical writing about Russia and the Middle East, including Jersualem: The Biography (which won Book of the Year from the Jewish Book Council), Catherine the Great and Potemkin (which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize), The Romanovs and Young Stalin. His books have been published in 48 languages. Most recently he is the author of The World: A Family History, an epic work of narrative history. He has presented BBC documentary series on Vienna, Jerusalem and Istanbul, among others, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


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