My major holiday reading certainly wasn’t light: Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar. It’s a fascinating, gripping read, exposing both the horror and the political intelligence of Stalin and his courtiers, many of whom of course did not survive his regime.
Just as slinging “fascist” around is ridiculous in most political discussions, so too with Stalinist. After all, Stalin probably tops the charts of the last century’s three major dictators for number of people killed. No one alive today, thankfully, is coming close to challenging that record. But I have to confess that there were many points in Stalin where my thoughts turned to today’s Washington. Consider some of the parallels. Stalin’s absurd promotion of the pseudo-science of Trofim Lysenko. Check. The elevation of doctrine over truth. Check. The importance of agreeing with the leader even if decisions are clearly wrong. Check. The relentless manipulation of news. Check.