The figure of Joseph Stalin has always provoked heated and often polarized debate. The recent declassification of a substantial portion of Stalin's archive has made possible this fundamental new assessment of the Soviet leader. In this groundbreaking 2005 study, leading international experts challenge many assumptions about Stalin from his early life in Georgia to the Cold War years with contributions ranging across the political, economic, social, cultural, ideological and international history of the Stalin era. The volume provides a deeper understanding of the nature of Stalin's power and of the role of ideas in his politics, presenting a more complex and nuanced image of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century. This study is without precedent in the field of Russian history and will prove invaluable reading for students of Stalin and Stalinism.