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Kotkin jacketStalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 by Stephen Kotkin (Allen Lane, £30)

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This immense work, by the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin, is an astounding feat of historical research. It takes the reader into the finest details of the life and political manoeuvrings of the young Stalin, in his route from a small town in Georgia to the upper heights of the new Soviet autocracy.

The myth of “Red October”—the Eistenstein-style narrative in which the masses rose up, stormed the Winter Palace, removed the traitors and killed…

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