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Book Review June 3, 2005
 
An Ordinary Joe
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 3
 

But it makes Service uncomfortable, since it seems to partake of the stereotype of Georgians as vengeful and obsessed with personal honor. So Service dodges the question with a pious platitude, "The history of the twentieth century would have been a lot less bloody if Joseph Dzhugashvili had been a better Georgian."

Yes, but if little Joey had been "a better Georgian," embracing entrepreneurship, home and family, we'd never have heard of him. He and his family would have been buried in a mass grave, by some high-ranking Bolshevik came to power by being "a bad Georgian" -- or Russian, or Jew, or Tatar.

So we look for evidence of ruthlessness and cruelty in the young Stalin because that's the kind of man the grown-up Stalin was.

This dismal tautology at the heart of the book drags the whole work down with it, into a meticulously-researched Oprah interview with the dead Koba.

Maybe the only way to really get the disproportion between the little man with the big mustache and the vast chaos he conducted is through comedy. The best versions of Stalin might be John Cleese's role in Erik the Viking, or the hero of Voinovich's story, "Koba and His Friends."

No sane, normal researcher of the early 21st century is ever going to get Stalin right. To do that, we'd have to want to understand his era. And that's the last thing we want. We're like Scott Evil, happy to come into our ill-gotten inheritances as long as we don't have to meet our horrible, long-lost dads.


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dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT
Street Produce Seller
Field Guide To Moscow: Arbusius Azerbaijanius :

Medvedev’s Ipod Nano Playlist :
Nizhny Tagil Sex Slaves
Russia's Sex Slave Graveyard : Over the Urals and through the woods to the mother of all Russian crime stories
Propaganda PSAs
Russian Propaganda Posters Are Back With A Vengeance : They also have the exact same design
 

 
 
 
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