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Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction A New York Times Notable Book of 2015 A painstakingly researched, revelatory biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators – her father, Josef Stalin.
You wouldn’t believe it, but . . .James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, grew up mute.Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.Albert Einstein was bullied mercilessly in school.Beethoven’s mom almost aborted him.Life takes the strangest sharp turns—and sometimes, U-turns. Robert Petterson—popular speaker, storyteller, and author—has been a student for his entire life of what God is teaching us through those real-life U-turns. In this book, he compiles 365 amazing stories that teach lessons you won’t easily forget. Each entry is written in the rest-of-the-story style popularized by Paul Harvey. With The One Year Book of Amazing Stories, you’ll marvel at how God has used the lives of these ordinary people to change the course of human history.
A poignant biography of Jacob Davidovitch Sudermann, a teacher and artist from a Russian Mennonite community who, like so many others, fell victim to the bloodthirsty paranoia of the Stalinist purges and died in a Siberian gulag in 1937. Sketches from Siberia is pieced together from letters, sketches, and paintings done by Sudermann himself during his imprisonment as well as the unpublished memoir of his sister Anna. It was Anna and other family members that brought these documents with them when they immigrated to Canada in the late forties. This important biography also serves as a valuable cultural history of the plight of the Russian Mennonite community. At once moving and chilling, it is a story that shows the strength that lies at the heart of kindness, the light that outlives the darkness. A timely story even eighty years after Sudermann’s death, it reminds us of the plight of displaced communities around the world today that are struggling to survive.
A SUNDAY TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 'A brilliant, compelling, propulsively written, magnificent tour de force' Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard 'The second volume of what will surely rank as one of the greatest historical achievements of our age ... The War and Peace of history: a book you fear you will never finish, but just cannot put down' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times Well before 1929, Stalin had achieved dictatorial power over the Soviet empire, but now he decided that the largest peasant economy in the world would be transformed into socialist modernity, whatever it took. What it took, and what Stalin managed to force through, transformed the country and its ruler in profound and enduring ways. Rather than a tale of a deformed or paranoid personality creating a political system, this is a story of a political system shaping a personality. Building and running a dictatorship, with power of life or death over hundreds of millions, in conditions of capitalist self-encirclement, made Stalin the person he became. Wholesale collectivization of agriculture, some 120 million peasants, necessitated levels of coercion that were extreme even for Russia, but Stalin did not flinch; the resulting mass starvation and death elicited criticism inside the party even from those Communists committed to the eradication of capitalism. By 1934, when the situation had stabilized and socialism had been built in the countryside too, the internal praise came for his uncanny success in anticapitalist terms. But Stalin never forgot and never forgave, with bloody consequences as he strove to consolidate the state with a brand new elite. Stalin had revived a great power with a formidable industrialized military. But the Soviet Union was effectively alone, with no allies and enemies perceived everywhere. The quest to find security would bring Soviet Communism into an improbable pact with Nazi Germany. But that bargain did not work out as envisioned. The lives of Stalin and Hitler, and the fates of their respective countries, drew ever closer to collision. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler: 1929-1941 is, like its predecessor Stalin: Paradoxes of Power: 1878-1928, nothing less than a history of the world from Stalin's desk. It is also, like its predecessor, a landmark achievement in the annals of the biographer's art. Kotkin's portrait captures the vast structures moving global events, and the intimate details of decision-making.
Pulitzer Prize-finalist Stephen Kotkin has written the definitive biography of Joseph Stalin, from collectivization and the Great Terror to the conflict with Hitler's Germany that is the signal event of modern world history In 1929, Joseph Stalin, having already achieved dictatorial power over the vast Soviet Empire, formally ordered the systematic conversion of the world’s largest peasant economy into “socialist modernity,” otherwise known as collectivization, regardless of the cost. What it cost, and what Stalin ruthlessly enacted, transformed the country and its ruler in profound and enduring ways. Building and running a dictatorship, with life and death power over hundreds of millions, made Stalin into the uncanny figure he became. Stephen Kotkin’s Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941 is the story of how a political system forged an unparalleled personality and vice versa. The wholesale collectivization of some 120 million peasants necessitated levels of coercion that were extreme even for Russia, and the resulting mass starvation elicited criticism inside the party even from those Communists committed to the eradication of capitalism. But Stalin did not flinch. By 1934, when the Soviet Union had stabilized and socialism had been implanted in the countryside, praise for his stunning anti-capitalist success came from all quarters. Stalin, however, never forgave and never forgot, with shocking consequences as he strove to consolidate the state with a brand new elite of young strivers like himself. Stalin’s obsessions drove him to execute nearly a million people, including the military leadership, diplomatic and intelligence officials, and innumerable leading lights in culture. While Stalin revived a great power, building a formidable industrialized military, the Soviet Union was effectively alone and surrounded by perceived enemies. The quest for security would bring Soviet Communism to a shocking and improbable pact with Nazi Germany. But that bargain would not unfold as envisioned. The lives of Stalin and Hitler, and the fates of their respective dictatorships, drew ever closer to collision, as the world hung in the balance. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941 is a history of the world during the build-up to its most fateful hour, from the vantage point of Stalin’s seat of power. It is a landmark achievement in the annals of historical scholarship, and in the art of biography.
"The price of life is pain, since the price of comfort is damnation." Sensuously beautiful, intensely passionate, generous to a fault — and one of the century's most brilliant writers of poetic prose — Elizabeth Smart carved her own destiny through sheer determination, strength and perserverance. In By Heart, the first biography of Smart, Rosemary Sullivan recounts the author's childhood in Ottawa as the second daughter of an affluent and well-connected family. Inspired by romantic notions of rebellion, Smart rejected what she perceived to be a colonistic literary community and entered a long period of self-imposed exile, desperate to escape family and country, and willing to sacrifice both wealth and propriety in favour of freedom. During her frequent trips to Europe, New York, California and Mexico, Smart came to know many of the important writers of the day, including W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood and Lawrence Durrell. While browsing in a London bookstore, she discovered the poetry of George Barker and instantly fell in love with the married poet. They met. Thus began one of the most intense, extraordinary and scandalous love affairs of our time. Their passionate and troubled relationship inspired Smart's By Grand Central Station, I Sat Down and Wept, which critic Brigid Bronphy has called one of the world's half dozen masterpieces of poetic prose. Partly because of the difficulties in single-handedly raising the four children she had with George Barker, and partly because of her own lack of confidence, it would be thirty-two years before Smart published a second novel. By Heart explores the career of a woman writer in the 1940s: the struggle to speak when silence is seductive, the battle against a profound sense of inadequacy, the release and elation that comes out of the pain of writing. The life of Elizabeth Smart is a story of extremes, of life as the supreme fiction. As Smart asks in her final journals, "Can I be contented with my lot? Well, I danced."

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