Stalin’s Library

A Dictator and His Books

“Stalin was a lifelong reader of astonishing stamina and range. In this shrewd and compelling exploration, Geoffrey Roberts finds the key to understanding the despot and his despotism hidden in plain sight in the pages of his books. The love of reading drew Stalin to the revolution and gave him the intellectual assurance that all his ruthless violence was both necessary and justified. Stalin’s Library offers a new and fascinating depth of insight into the mind of a fanatic.”

Rachel Polonsky, author of Molotov’s Magic Lantern


“Innovative and intriguing: the warlord and mass-murderer as bookworm, librarian and intellectual. A fascinating read.”

David Reynolds, co-author of The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt


“A German philosopher once said, “Tell me how you read and I’ll tell you who you are.” Geoffrey Roberts’s study of the remains of Stalin’s library, and the angry exclamations and demanding queries made by the tyrant’s blue pencil in the margins (and sometimes whole rewritten pages) reveals Stalin as a fanatical proof-reader, a phenomenally gifted interrogator of other persons’ opinions.”

Donald Rayfield, author of Stalin and His Hangmen


“This fascinating, original, and meticulously researched study of Stalin’s library offers penetrating insight into the mind of a dictator who valued ideas as much as power. In exploring Stalin as an avid reader of books, Roberts punctures many myths about the man.”

Stephen Smith, author of Russia in Revolution

Formats available: Hardback

First Published: 08/02/22

Publisher: Yale University Press

ISBN: 9780300179040