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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Review: Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan

Title: Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Author: Rosemary Sullivan
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: June 2, 2015
Source: Library



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Born in the early years of the USSR, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation & purges that haunted Russia, but she didn't escape tragedy—the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two brothers, aunts & uncles, & a lover twice her age, deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father. Gradually learning of the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet & in 1967 defected to the USA—leaving her two children behind. Altho she was never a part of her father’s regime, she couldn't escape his legacy. Her American life was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles & died poor in Spring Green, Wisc.

With access to KGB, CIA & Soviet government archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Sullivan pieces together her incredible life in an 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."


My Two Cents: 

"Stalin's Daughter" is the non-fiction story of Stalin's daughter Svetlana. She was, of course, a real person but her story reads much more like fiction. She grew up under a father who was larger-than-life. He alternated between being very kind and being mean and manipulative of her even when she was just a child.

When she was in her 40s, she gave up her Soviet citizenship and defected while on travel in India. She comes to the United States and is taken under the wing of the Secretary of State at the time, George Keenan. One would think that that might be the most exciting thing that happens in this book but you would be wrong! She joins a commune! She eventually marries an architect from Frank Lloyd Wright's Talesin, who happens to be the son of FLW's last wife, Olgivanna. And oh, Olgivanna ends up manipulating Svetlana too. It's a wild ride!

I love learning new history from books. I don't think before reading this book that I even knew that Stalin had a daughter. Her story is so very strange but so very fascinating. It's no wonder that it takes the author over 600 pages to tell her whole story. Svetlana is a person who I feel like I know after reading this book. She had a tumultuous life to say the very least.

Drawing on a wealth of resources, the author brings her story to life. This book is quite long but it flies by as Svetlana seems to have a habit of finding chaos wherever she goes. This was a great history but showed new light on some events that I knew nothing about before reading this book.


 


1 comment:

  1. I've had this book for a while and haven't read it. I'm definitely moving it up on my TBR list.

    ReplyDelete

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