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Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist PEN Literary Award Finalist New York Times Notable Book Washington Post Notable Book Boston Globe Best Book of the Year The award-winning author of Villa Air-Bel returns with 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. Born in the early years of the Soviet Union, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation and purges that haunted Russia, but she did not escape tragedy—the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two brothers, aunts and uncles, and a lover twice her age, deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father. As she gradually learned about the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States—leaving her two children behind. But although she was never a part of her father’s regime, she could not escape his legacy. Her life in America was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles, and ultimately died in poverty in Wisconsin. With access to KGB, CIA, and Soviet government archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Rosemary Sullivan pieces together Svetlana’s incredible life in a masterful account of unprecedented intimacy. Epic in scope, it’s a revolutionary biography of a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father’s name. Sullivan explores a complicated character in her broader context without ever losing sight of her powerfully human story, in the process opening a closed, brutal world that continues to fascinate us. Illustrated with photographs.
âe~Compassionate and compelling, this is not a political story but a quest for love in the heart of darknessâe(tm) Simon Sebag Montefiore âe~A biography on an epic scale, with a combination of tragedy and history worthy of a Russian novelâe(tm) Independent âe~Superbly well toldâe(tm) Sunday Times Who was Svetlana Alliluyeva? A little girl, her fatherâe(tm)s only daughter, his âeoelittle sparrowâe ; instructed to bury her secrets in her heart by her mother, who shot herself soon after. An observer as her relatives were mercilessly killed and her first love exiled. A woman who tore through relationships with men, joined and abandoned various religions, and became the most famous defector to the United States. The victim of an inescapable truth: âeoeYou are Stalinâe(tm)s daughter. . . . You canâe(tm)t live your own life. You canâe(tm)t live any life. You exist only in reference to a name.âe
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.
After the success of her New York Times-bestselling childhood memoir Twenty Letters to a Friend, Josef Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva—subject of Rosemary Sullivan’s critically acclaimed biography Stalin’s Daughter—penned this riveting account of her year-long journey to defect from the USSR and start a new life in America. The story of Only One Year begins on December 19, 1966, as Svetlana Alliluyeva leaves Russia for India, on a one-month visa, in the custody of an employee of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It ends on December 19, 1967, in Princeton, New Jersey, as she and two American friends join in a toast to her new life of freedom. That year of pain, discovery, turmoil, and new hope reaches its climax with her decision to break completely from the world of Communism, to turn her back on her country, her children, and the legacy of her notorious father—Joseph Stalin. Why did she make such a drastic choice? This book, a detailed account of reality in the USSR, is her explanation. Frank, fascinating, and thoroughly engrossing, Only One Year reveals life behind the Iron Curtain, the risks and subterfuge of defection, and one extraordinary woman’s fight for her future. “Among the great Russian autobiographical works: Herzen, Kropotkin, Tolstoy’s Confession.”—Edmund Wilson, The New Yorker
In this riveting, New York Times-bestselling memoir—first published by Harper in 1967—Svetlana Alliluyeva, subject of Rosemary Sullivan’s critically acclaimed biography, Stalin’s Daughter, describes the surreal experience of growing up in the Kremlin in the shadow of her father, Joseph Stalin. Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva, later known as Lana Peters, was the youngest child and only daughter of Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva, his second wife. In 1967, she fled the Soviet Union for India, where she approached the U.S. Embassy for asylum. Once there, she showed her CIA handler something remarkable: A personal memoir about growing up inside the Kremlin that she’d written in 1963. The Indian Ambassador to the USSR, whom she’d befriended, had smuggled the manuscript out of the Soviet Union the previous year—and returned it to her as soon as she arrived in India. Structured as a series of letters to a “friend”—Svetlana refused to identify him, but we now know it was her close friend, Fyodor Volkenstein—this astounding memoir exposes the dark human heart of the Kremlin. After opening with Stalin’s death, Svetlana returns to her childhood. Each letter adds a new strand to her remarkable story; some are wistful—romanticized recollections of her early years and her family—while others are desperate exorcisms of the tragedies that plagued her, such as her mother’s suicide and her father’s increasing cruelty. It is also in some ways a love letter to Russia, with its ancient heritage and spectacularly varied geography. Candid, surprising, and utterly compelling, Twenty Letters to a Friend offers one of the most revealing portraits of life inside Stalin’s inner circle, and of the notorious dictator himself.
France, 1940. The once glittering boulevards of Paris teem with spies, collaborators, and the Gestapo now that France has fallen to Hitler's Wermacht. For André Breton, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, and scores of other cultural elite who have been denounced as enemies of the Third Reich the fear of imminent arrest, deportation, and death defines their daily life. Their only salvation is the Villa Air-Bel, a château outside Marseille where a group of young people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep them alive. A powerfully told, meticulously researched true story filled with suspense, drama, and intrigue, Villa Air-Bel delves into a fascinating albeit hidden saga in our recent history. It is a remarkable account of how a diverse intelligentsia—intense, brilliant, and utterly terrified—was able to survive one of the darkest chapters of the twentieth century.
Josef Stalin exercised supreme power in the Soviet Union from 1929 until his death in 1953. During that quarter-century, by Oleg Khlevniuk’s estimate, he caused the imprisonment and execution of no fewer than a million Soviet citizens per year. Millions more were victims of famine directly resulting from Stalin's policies. What drove him toward such ruthlessness? This essential biography, by the author most deeply familiar with the vast archives of the Soviet era, offers an unprecedented, fine-grained portrait of Stalin the man and dictator. Without mythologizing Stalin as either benevolent or an evil genius, Khlevniuk resolves numerous controversies about specific events in the dictator’s life while assembling many hundreds of previously unknown letters, memos, reports, and diaries into a comprehensive, compelling narrative of a life that altered the course of world history. In brief, revealing prologues to each chapter, Khlevniuk takes his reader into Stalin’s favorite dacha, where the innermost circle of Soviet leadership gathered as their vozhd lay dying. Chronological chapters then illuminate major themes: Stalin’s childhood, his involvement in the Revolution and the early Bolshevik government under Lenin, his assumption of undivided power and mandate for industrialization and collectivization, the Terror, World War II, and the postwar period. At the book’s conclusion, the author presents a cogent warning against nostalgia for the Stalinist era.

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