On Stalin’s Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics by Sheila Fitzpatrick - review by Geoffrey Roberts

Geoffrey Roberts

Everyday Stalinists

On Stalin’s Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics


Princeton University Press 364pp £24.95 order from our bookshop

Sheila Fitzpatrick is a renowned social historian, a powerful advocate of writing ‘history from below’ and the author of numerous ground-breaking studies of social and cultural life in Stalin’s Russia. In this book she shifts her perspective to high politics and life in Stalin’s inner circle.

The members of what Fitzpatrick calls Stalin’s ‘team’ had personal lives and identities as well as public ones. Fitzpatrick shows that the private, inner life of this group was as integral to its functioning as formal politics. Fitzpatrick is not the first to explore the habitat of the Soviet elite, but her depiction of life in Stalin’s ruling coterie is compelling and convincing.

Stalin may have been responsible for the deaths of many people he worked with, but the leadership team he formed in the 1920s and 1930s was remarkably enduring. The key figures were Vyacheslav Molotov, who served as foreign and prime minister; trade commissar Anastas Mikoyan; Lazar Kaganovich, who was responsible

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