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.
Drawing on extensive original research, Sheila Fitzpatrick provides the first in-depth account of this inner circle and their families, vividly describing how these dedicated comrades-in-arms not only worked closely with Stalin, whom they both feared and admired, but also constituted his social circle. Readers meet the wily security chief Beria, whom the rest of the team quickly had executed following Stalin’s death; Stalin’s number-two man, Molotov, who continued on the team even after his wife was arrested and exiled; the charismatic Ordzhonikidze, who ran the country’s industry with entrepreneurial flair; 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. Among the book’s surprising findings are that Stalin almost always worked with the team on important issues and that after his death the team managed a brilliant transition to a reforming collective leadership.
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.
Jane Smiley and NPR's Lynn Neary discuss "Some Luck" at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Speaker Biography: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley has written many critically acclaimed and popular novels, including "The Greenlanders," "Ordinary Love and Good Will," "A Thousand Acres," "Horse Heaven," "Good Faith," "The Georges and the Jewels" and her latest book, "Some Luck." She has also written for the New Yorker, Horseman, Harper's, The Nation and other publications. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 2006 she received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. Smiley was a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1978 and 1987.
Sabaa Tahir discusses "An Ember in the Ashes" at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Speaker Biography: Best-selling author Sabaa Tahir spent her childhood reading and listening to the radio in the Mojave Desert and dreaming of growing up as a pirate or bear. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, she became an editor for the Washington Post. Her wildly popular debut novel, “An Ember in the Ashes," is set in a fantasy world with hints of ancient Rome and tells the story of Laia, a slave fighting for her family, and Elias, a young soldier fighting for his freedom. A highly anticipated sequel is scheduled for release in 2016. Besides writing, Tahir has a passion for music, especially indie rock, and frequently puts together playlists. She loves all of her characters, even the bad ones.
Paul Halpern discusses "Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics" at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Speaker Biography: Paul Halpern is a prolific author and a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He has written numerous articles and more than a dozen books on science with interests ranging from space, time and higher dimensions to the cultural aspects of science. He has appeared on various television and radio programs for the History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS and NPR and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship and an Athenaeum Literary Award. His popular books include “Countdown to Apocalypse,” “The Quest for Alien Planets,” “The Cyclical Serpent,” “The Structure of the Universe,” “Cosmic Wormholes,” “Time Journeys,” “Faraway Worlds,” “The Great Beyond,” “Brave New Universe,” “What's Science Ever Done for Us?,” “Collider,” “What's the Matter with Pluto?” and “Edge of the Universe.” His most recent book is “Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics."