On Stalin's Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics

On Stalin s Team The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics Stalin was the unchallenged dictator of the Soviet Union for so long that most historians have dismissed the officials surrounding him as mere yes men and political window dressing On Stalin s Team ov

  • Title: On Stalin's Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics
  • Author: Sheila Fitzpatrick
  • ISBN: 9780691145334
  • Page: 308
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Stalin was the unchallenged dictator of the Soviet Union for so long that most historians have dismissed the officials surrounding him as mere yes men and political window dressing On Stalin s Team overturns this view, revealing that behind Stalin was a group of loyal men who formed a remarkably effective team with him from the late 1920s until his death in 1953 DrawingStalin was the unchallenged dictator of the Soviet Union for so long that most historians have dismissed the officials surrounding him as mere yes men and political window dressing On Stalin s Team overturns this view, revealing that behind Stalin was a group of loyal men who formed a remarkably effective team with him from the late 1920s until his death in 1953 Drawing on extensive original research, Sheila Fitzpatrick provides the first in depth account of this inner circle and their families She vividly describes how these dedicated comrades in arms not only worked closely with Stalin, but also constituted his social circle Stalin s team included the wily security chief Beria Andreev, who traveled to provincial purges while listening to Beethoven on a portable gramophone and Khrushchev, who finally disbanded the team four years after Stalin s death Taking readers from the cataclysms of the Great Purges and World War II to the paranoia of Stalin s final years, On Stalin s Team paints an entirely new picture of Stalin within his milieu one that transforms our understanding of how the Soviet Union was ruled during much of its existence.

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    About " Sheila Fitzpatrick "

  • Sheila Fitzpatrick

    Sheila Fitzpatrick born June 4, 1941, Melbourne is an Australian American historian She teaches Soviet History at the University of Chicago.Fitzpatrick s research focuses on the social and cultural history of the Stalinist period, particularly on aspects of social identity and daily life She is currently concentrating on the social and cultural changes in Soviet Russia of the 1950s and 1960s.In her early work, Sheila Fitzpatrick focused on the theme of social mobility, suggesting that the opportunity for the working class to rise socially and as a new elite had been instrumental in legitimizing the regime during the Stalinist period Despite its brutality, Stalinism as a political culture would have achieved the goals of the democratic revolution The center of attention was always focused on the victims of the purges rather than its beneficiaries, noted the historian Yet as a consequence of the Great Purge , thousands of workers and communists who had access to the technical colleges during the first five year plan received promotions to positions in industry, government and the leadership of the Communist Party.According to Fitzpatrick, the cultural revolution of the late 1920 and the purges which shook the scientific, literary, artistic and the industrial communities is explained in part by a class struggle against executives and intellectual bourgeois The men who rose in the 1930s played an active role to get rid of former leaders who blocked their own promotion, and the Great Turn found its origins in initiatives from the bottom rather than the decisions of the summit In this vision, Stalinist policy based on social forces and offered a response to popular radicalism, which allowed the existence of a partial consensus between the regime and society in the 1930s.Fitzpatrick was the leader of the second generation of revisionist historians She was the first to call the group of Sovietologists working on Stalinism in the 1980s a new cohort of revisionist historians.Fitzpatrick called for a social history that did not address political issues, in other words that adhered strictly to a from below viewpoint This was justified by the idea that the university had been strongly conditioned to see everything through the prism of the state the social processes unrelated to the intervention of the state is virtually absent from the literature Fitzpatrick did not deny that the state s role in social change of the 1930s was huge However, she defended the practice of social history without politics Most young revisionists did not want to separate the social history of the USSR from the evolution of the political system.Fitzpatrick explained in the 1980s, when the totalitarian model was still widely used, it was very useful to show that the model had an inherent bias and it did not explain everything about Soviet society Now, whereas a new generation of academics considers sometimes as self evident that the totalitarian model was completely erroneous and harmful, it is perhaps useful to show than there were certain things about the Soviet company that it explained very well.

  • 617 Comments

  • This volume presents a new view of power and institutions in the highest levels of the Soviet Union. Stalin was often imagined to be a solitary dictator, but Fitzpatrick says that is not the case. He often delegated responsibility with other major officials, like senior management at a large corporation. Stalin still made many major decisions, but he held votes and listened to his subordinates' advice. In Stalin's later years, as he grew more exhausted and paranoid, he eventually just signed wha [...]



  • Well worth reading. A nice corrective to all the "Stalin, uniquely evil, one-man killing machine" books, but she does go too far in the opposite direction. She presents the team without any moralizing commentary at all. It is not like she doesnt tell you about the horrors; she does, but the tone is completely objective and non-judgemental. Perhaps too non-judgmental. As she notes, 688, 000 shot in the 1037-38 purge alone (just shot, not died in freezing starving camps) by the party's own careful [...]


  • Historian Shelia Fitzpatrick’s thesis is straightforward, and in some ways, obvious. However monstrous Stalin’s tyranny, he didn’t operate like a version of Ming the Merciless, issuing edicts from his Kremlin ice palace. Instead, Stalin worked for decades with a varied yet remarkably stable coterie of advisers and party officials who remained personally loyal throughout his reign. Moreover, this “team” managed to sustain its collective leadership of the Soviet Union after Stalin’s de [...]


  • Wonderfully written, the personalities come to life as never before and give a human dimension to the interaction of Stalin with his "team". This advances our understanding of Stalin's method of running the USSR. The book makes the case that the "team" had a direct impact in advancing the party line, even if Stalin had the most important role in deciding changes in policy. As a result, there was no crisis when Stalin died. The team just kept doing their jobs.


  • This was a joyful read. A person interested in the Soviet history will find very interesting anecdotes and stories in the text. In this regard, it is definitely worth reading. But unlike what writer suggests in the introduction, the book does not really say anything new or challenging for the existing knowledge (paradigm) on Stalin's modus operandi.


  • An excellent book about an overlooked area of Soviet history. No matter how cutthroat you think your management team is


  • It is easy to imagine Stalin as the absolute leader of the Soviet Union, who ruled and made decision single-handedly, with people around him as merely yes-men. However the truth is not that simple. As this book explains, Stalin, in fact, acted as a captain of a team (or a gang, if you wish), and only moved into erratic behaviours late in his life.His team was filled with colourful set of characters, first with people such as Molotov (the greyish, hard-working, "stone-bottomed), Kaganovich (the e [...]




  • Does a ruthless dictator need a management team? Sheila Fitzpatrick takes a good look at the Stalin "management style," with a focus on the team that surrounded Stalin from his first days in power. In doing so she shows us reality, which tends to belie the myth of Stalin as exercising unfettered power in the Soviet Union. We get a view, from the Team's perspective, of the Great Purge of the 1930's, the War period, the post war period, and Stalin's method of moving relatively slowly against forme [...]


  • Unexpectedly interesting and easy to read, this is a primer on the team of ministers and party leaders who formed a core around Stalin from his earliest days through four years after his death. I was impressed by Fitzpatrick's analysis of "dosage," a Stalin tactic to slowly signal disfavor with a minister or administrator to test popular and team reaction before a show trial, banishment, or other punishment. It's a simple idea but she repeatedly demonstrates how Stalin tested the waters and did [...]


  • Another in Fitzpatrick's ongoing attempt to rehabilitate Stalin and mitigate his disastrous forced collectivization and various purges.This one is an amoral and bloodless description of the role she thinks Stalin's "team" played during his reign but she doesn't really prove her thesis that there was a collective leadership, with Stalin first among equals, running the USSR from the late 20s through Stalin's death in 1953. The author does do a good job of tracking who was in and out of favor among [...]


  • Sheila Fitzpatrick’s contention is that Stalin, far from operating as the lone-wolf dictator that he is often represented as being, a ruthless leader who ran rough-shod over his colleagues, was in fact far more of a team-player than we might expect and that his “team” however much it changed over the years was an important aspect of Soviet government. Painstakingly and meticulously researched, written in a lively and accessible way, this is an excellent account of the Stalin years, informa [...]


  • The book presents an interesting thesis--contra our generally accepted understandings of him, Stalin was not a dictator surrounded by sycophants. Rather, he was the clear leader of a team full of competent underlings who felt willing to disagree with him and competently ran their areas of policy expertise. Indeed, they schemed among each other--sometimes against their rivals, towards the end against Stalin himself. The book does a great job laying out the case for Fitzpatrick's claim and showing [...]


  • A good textbook but not ideal for beginners. While the book is written in a very conversational and understandable tone, it can be hard for someone without at least an introductory knowledge of Russian politics at the time to differentiate between the various politicians. Does a very good job of presenting and supporting the argument that Stalin didn't lead by himself but had a team of people around him whom he sometimes listened to.


  • Rarely seen aspect of Stalinist historyIt is highly unusual to read a book about this time period which focuses so extensively on the team members. I applaud the author for taking this different approach. I know it is not intended as a purely scholarly work, so though I would have preferred more extensive footnotes, I still give it 5 stars. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Stalin, Stalinist history, or modern Russian history.


  • A surprisingly compact rehash of Stalin's immediate co-workers. Could be interesting for someone who has not read much about Stalin or his entourage, but if you have already read Montefiore's "Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar" look elsewhere, you will find no new information here.


  • S'okay. Haha. This lady wrote "Everyday Stalinism" which is one of my favorite history books ever so I found this kind of disappointing. It sort of felt like a run of the mill political history of Stalinist Russia.


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