Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize


Honorable Mention

Stalin: Passage to Revolution

Honorable Mention: Ronald Grigor Suny
Title: Stalin: Passage to Revolution (Princeton University Press).

Based on a wealth of new archival material, Suny’s Stalin: Passage to Revolution represents not only the definitive biography of Stalin from his birth up through the Revolution of 1917, but also Suny’s own magnum opus. This monumental study is not about the making of a ruthless, demon dictator, but about how Stalin became one of the most respected and prominent Bolsheviks by 1917. The author treats Stalin’s psychological evolution as the interplay between the evolving character of the sickly boy from the margins of the Russian empire and the unique sociocultural milieu in which he matured, painstakingly documenting how Stalin’s life experiences molded young Soso, later Koba, and finally Stalin, the man of steel. In clear, detached prose Suny masterfully examines Georgian society and culture, the role of the revolutionary intelligentsia, the fractious Marxist movement, Stalin’s life in the underground, his six imprisonments and exiles to inhospitable places, and Stalin’s participation in the revolutionary events of 1917. While painting a nuanced and compelling portrait of Stalin’s passage to revolution, Suny invites readers to engage his crucial point that for Stalin becoming a revolutionary was a choice that emerged out of complex political and cultural realities rather than a mere personal pathology.

Winner: Ana Hedberg Olenina