Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £19.99

Buy Now for £19.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

Winner of the British Book Awards History Book of the Year.

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

This thrilling biography of Stalin and his entourage during the terrifying decades of his supreme power transforms our understanding of Stalin as Soviet dictator, Marxist leader and Russian tsar. 

Based on groundbreaking research, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals in captivating detail the fear and betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous cruelty of this secret world. Written with extraordinary narrative verve, this magnificent feat of scholarly research has become a classic of modern history writing. Showing how Stalin's triumphs and crimes were the product of his fanatical Marxism and his gifted but flawed character, this is an intimate portrait of a man as complicated and human as he was brutal and chilling. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2003 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2019 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about Stalin

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    317
  • 4 Stars
    46
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    283
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    281
  • 4 Stars
    35
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ooo ‘e was a bugger

If all you knew about Stalin was, he had a moustache and was Russian you’re about to lean you were only half right. I know a lot more now but god it was heavy going. That’s not the fault of the writer and certainly not the narrator, who did an implacable job. I could never have read such a book, with all those Russian names but having the story told to me certainly helped some facts stick. Enlighted me to the horror of those times and how it tied in with more familiar historic world events.
I listened with a sense of achievement as Stalin lie on his death bed realising, I'd got the end of the 27 hour book, only for the bloke to perk up again and on the book went.
The only short comings in the audio book was my own lack of attention as facts figures and dates left me hearing but not listening. I’m glad I’ve completed the book I should probably listen to it all over again now but I think I deserve something lighter for my next listen, maybe Pol Pot or Idi Amin.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Horrifying History.

Stalin, as bad as Hitler? The way this book is written it seems to gloss over the millions that perished at the whim of a tyrannical leader and his insane followers! In order to follow the story of Stalin, I suppose this would be inevitable. So much more still to be told, so many lives destroyed by this despot and his murdering friends. Its really quite incredible to think that so many so called educated men and women can every concede that this was the way to live! Its truly incredible and frightening. A riveting listen and well narrated.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A look behind the curtain

This book gives us a glimpse of life in The Kremlin during Stalin's rule. The book examines the relationships between Stalin and those who served under him, lived with him and helped him to make monumental decisions. This book does not examine or detail Stalin's policies, rather it explains the dynamics between Stalin and others, the interplay between them and the lifestyles they led. Here we find a Joseph Stalin who is anxious about his appearance, thoughtful, analytical and at times consumed by the minutiae of daily life and rivalries. We learn he is charming, educated and intelligent. We discover a learning and pragmatic war leader who probably saved the world from fascism, an achievement that should make us all glad for Stalin's ruthlessness. Whether you admire or loathe Stalin, you will be surprised by the man that emerges and how he developed his man of steel persona.The narrator is excellent and gives an excellent reading. This book is for anyone interested in this idealistic, dangerous and fascinating period of history.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Enlightening and entertaining

Montefiore's extensive research and writings give you an insight into the internal mindset of these great characters and how they worked with each other in the context of the great events of history. The book balanced well the personal events in Stalin and his inner circle's lives to those of wider events happening at the time and how that affected their motivations - very enlightening and entertaining.

İ had the opportunity to read the abridged version which was also good however for those who appreciate depth this is the book for you. The book was very entertaining and enlightening. 5 stars.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great

Right, so, this thing is massive, and other than watching a couple of documentaries about ww2, watching 'Last of the Czars' on Netflix, watching the film "The death of Stalin and listening to a couple of episodes about Stalin's life on the podcast 'Behind the Bastards' I didn't know anything about this period of time in this area of the world.

As such my knowledge was pretty limited and I sometimes struggled to keep track of all the names of the different people as the author goes into great detail about pretty much everyone involved in the story. The audio book comes with a pdf with lists of the different people but it's quite hard to read. That being said it was a very well documented book and was so interesting I completed it in a matter of weeks.

Basically if you're coming into this as a Novice on the era as I was just be prepared to have to stop the book a few times to look up certain people and remind yourself of who they are.
If you've never looked at anything to do with Starlin I'd maybe watch a couple of docs or something first just to give you a little bit of base information before you get started.
But it is great I was never bored and learnt so much. Honestly if I could give it more than 5 stars I would.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Story of murder and dictatorship

A well recounted and detailed history of a murderous regime that explains the paranoia that defines the Russian state. A shocking history that is woven into compulsive listening; how would the west ever consider an alliance with a regime that kills and tortures its own to such an extent? If you ever doubted Russophobia this will cure you!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A must listen

A brilliant, insightful and entertaining history of Stalin. This farcical and utterly terrifying era of revolutionary Russia serves as a warning to us all

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A stroke of Genius in every way!

One of the the leading historians on the subject. What a feat! Engaging , poignant , and unabashedly honest portrait of one of the most misperceived villains of history . Utterly brilliant !

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

This audio book explains in detail the life of one of the cruelest and famous dictators in the 20th

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best I've listened to

The story is epic and almost comical with how shocking it is, the narration excellent a piece of art! Enjoyed the subject matter and narration as much as each other, the narration complemented the story perfectly! Thoroughly enjoyed!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for TrueEllipsis
  • TrueEllipsis
  • 22-06-22

Magnificent

This book is a heroic achievement. The author does an incredible job at stitching together all the evidence and archive documents and paints a very vivid picture of Stalin and his close circles.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-02-22

Riveting

Feels like an edge of your seat screenplay for an emmy award winning HBO series - and the narrator does an excellent job at conveying this. The visceral terror of life under Stalins rule is well captured.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brendon
  • Brendon
  • 05-06-21

LONG, BUT WORTH IT

This gang of thug rogues make Hitlers gang positively tame - literally tame. And Putin loves Stalin? Well, now you know what Putin is.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David R. Butler
  • David R. Butler
  • 09-12-20

So Good!

I read this about 10 years ago and adored it. Was so pleased to see the unabridged audio version come out.

Both the author and the narrator bring the Stalin period to life. The approach to research and the narrative remind me of Doris Kearns Goodwin, but with all the zaniness of the Stalinist courtiers.

Remains a favourite and I know I will listen to this again down the road.