Friday, October 19, 2007

Getting to know Iosef Dzhugashvili


Do recognize the unassuming young man in the picture? No? What if I told you his name - Iosef Dzugashvili. Does that help?

No?

What if I told you his famous pseudonym: Koba. Would that tell you more?

No?

Ok, it's time to let the cat out of the bag. The picture is of Josef Stalin, born Iosef Dzugashvili in the small town of Gori in then Russian Georgia. It's also Dzugashvili as opposed to his more ferocious and infamous adult incarnation that is the subject of Simon Sebag Montefiore's new book Young Stalin, a book the New York Times has cheekily (but not inaccurately) described as a portrait of the "dictator as a young poet-thug". Montefiore's book apparently expands on where Donald Rayfield and Robert Conquest have tread only briefly to provide what may be the most comprehensive biography yet of the man who would become Josef Stalin. While I haven't read Young Stalin yet, I certainly intend to do so soon, but I'd already learned about Iosef Dzugashvili surprised me at first, as it surprises everyone who first learns about the man who become the powerful man of the 20th century.

Unlike his German contemporary, the young Dzugashvili has a credible claim to being an artist, with a talent for Georgian poetry. Also unlike Hitler, Dzugashvili was a quick study and an adept student - when not rebelling against the monastery where he was educated. Though an avid reader, the young man was also a street brawler, who managed to intimidate with his brawn despite losing much of the use of an arm that withered after it was run over by a horse drawn carriage. Undoubtedly, a vicious streetfighting intellectual seems to be a contradiction in terms, but not for Dzugashvili, who quickly learned to hide his brains and overemphasize his strength - a decision that served him extremely well for the rest of his life. And when young Dzugashvili had finally morphed into Stalin, the Man of Steel, his Bolshevik rivals - especially Trotsky - bought into his ruse, continually underestimating him as some sort of uneducated, bloodthirsty country bumpkin. This image alone kept Stalin out of the picture while the party intellectuals fought each other for power, allowing Stalin to sit back and wait to see who would emerge victorious.

Stalin invented a ridiculous biography to obscure what were, frankly, his more interesting (if infinitely more humble) origins, and I eagerly await reading Young Stalin to learn yet ever more about the man behind the monstrous myth. Perhaps I'll even read it by candlelight on Halloween, just for the effect ..

7 comments:

Michael said...

Outstanding recommendation...I'll definitely have to read this book. Weird to think how someone so small in stature could be such a bad-ass.

jimmy choo wedges said...

CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Ronron 85 Metal Patent Pumps (Noir)
Christian Louboutin Satin and Chiffon Pump
Christian Louboutin Satin and Chiffon Pumps
Christian Louboutin Satin cage effect heels
Christian Louboutin Simple 70 leather pumps
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Simple 85 Patent Pump (Camel)
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Simple 85 Patent Pump (Noir)
Christian Louboutin Simple patent pumps 85
Christian Louboutin Simple Pump 85
Christian Louboutin Simple Pump 90
Christian Louboutin Slingback Bow Pump
Christian Louboutin Slingback Bow Pumps
Christian Louboutin Slingback Pump

Viagra Online said...

All those power sicks deserve to be remembered in order to avoid that other ones dominate some countries. Nice post. Viagra Generic Viagra

TOGunslinger said...

He wasn't Bad as in cool, he was a bully who overpowered younger or weaker or less connected men and then later used his position to hold them in place through fear while he beat them senseless. My grandmother's brother was a conscripted soldier who served under the authority of Stalin. He and other conscripts were building a road through a forest in the snow with no gloves and warm clothing, Staling personally horse whipped my great uncle for daring to ask for what they needed. He will always be remembered as a demon. He was no more than a communist Hitler.

vibrams said...

All the cheap Christian Louboutin Heel for selling within our shop would be to provide services of first-class quality. you can take satisfaction in a whole lot more discount.The christian louboutin evening Platform whole lot could be the good and stylish one.They occur in fascinating style and design and stylish christian louboutin peep toe.These women's christian louboutin pumps are luxury and noble.The pump display formal, a whole lot more display its gorgeous gloss and honour. good heel with thick soles collocation to strengthen all round modelling, carry into some mysterious alluring taste! This pairs of large christian louboutin wedges features a pretty significant part for women's fabulous entire body figure, display their fantastic figure and stylish attitude.Welcome to share Christian Louboutin Store!

гид в барселоне said...

Thanks so much for this post, pretty worthwhile material.

Business IT Support London said...

Nice blog and filled with complete detail in black and white. It must be share with friends and colleagues.
Business IT Support London