Film: Stalin - Rise to Power

Film Series: Power and authority in Russia and the Soviet Union

By Professor James Harris, University of Leeds, published 27th March 2024

In this film, Professor James Harris (University of Leeds) discusses how interpretations have changed over the years regarding Stalin’s rise to power, and his transformation from rural Georgian to the ‘Man of Steel’ – Stalin. For many years, western interpretations were strongly influenced by his rival Trotsky, who defined Stalin as a backroom Machiavelli. Professor Harris reflects on how this approach has been challenged over time. He explores Stalin’s own skills as a formidable administrator who played a central role in the recovery of the USSR after the revolution and the civil war. Importantly, at that stage he was focused on building relationships, unlike Trotsky who often found himself alienating his colleagues.

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