Joseph Stalin began life as a frail child, with an abusive father and an inferiority complex. This triggered an early desire for greatness and respect that would eventually turn the young Bolshevik idealist into one of the most ruthless dictators in modern history.
Like his contemporary, Adolf Hitler, Stalin was responsible for millions of deaths and inflicted barbaric cruelty on the Soviet people. But while Hitler is readily portrayed as a monster, Stalin has not been subjected to quite the same level of vitriol. In Stalin: A Beginner's Guide, renowned historian Abraham Ascher analyses new and old sources, separating truths from falsehoods to present an unvarnished portrait of the Soviet leader.