I read this book about Stalin's last grim years and suspicious death while speculation briefly raged in the media about the death of Saddam Hussein and his replacement by a double or a sudden palace coup. Dictators are never allowed to die straightforwardly. Years later, speculation still surrounds the death of Adolf Hitler; Stalin's death just over fifty years ago from a brain haemorrhage has more than a whiff of conspiracy. Was he killed? Was he allowed to die?
There were plenty of people in the Soviet Union in 1953 who might have liked to see Stalin dead. In their absorbing and painstaking reconstruction of the last years of Stalin's dictatorship, Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov have unearthed any number of Stalin's henchmen and colleagues who were victimised or