Every biography of Stalin is necessarily a “political biography”; for Stalin is a politician to his finger-tips, and there is no other capacity in which either contemporaries or posterity are likely to interest themselves in him. What Mr. Deutscher means by giving his new biography of Stalin 1 this sub-title is, perhaps, not so much that he has wasted less time than the hagiographers of Moscow or than hostile biographers like Souvarine and Trotsky on more or less mythical episodes, creditable or discreditable, of Stalin’s youth and personal life, but rather that he intends his book as an analysis of his hero’s political achievement. This is, in fact, what it is; and the intention has been brilliantly executed. The usual difficulty of political biography, the difficulty of separating the record of the man from the history of his time, scarcely arises in dealing with Stalin. Since Lenin’s death Stalin’s career and the history of Soviet Russia have been inseparable. Nothing that belongs to the one can be regarded as 212irrelevant to the other. A story so dramatic as Stalin’s cannot be dull. Mr. Deutscher has missed none of the points and has written a book which, among its other merits, is absorbing to read. But it is absorbing in part because, in all the excitement of the external detail, he has never lost sight of his central theme of the nature of Stalin’s achievement and his place in the history of the revolution.