Inside the Stalin Archives: Discovering the New Russia

Jonathan Brent
2008
Atlas and Co.

To most Americans, Russia remains as enigmatic today as it was during the Iron Curtain era. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country had an opportunity to face its tortured past. In Inside the Stalin Archives, Jonathan Brent asks, why didn't this happen? Why are the anti-Semitic Protocols of Zion sold openly in the lobby of the State Duma? Why are archivists under surveillance and phones still tapped? Why does Stalin, a man responsible for the deaths of millions of his own people, remain popular enough to appear on boxes of chocolate sold in Moscow's airport?

Brent draws on fifteen years of unprecedented access to high-level Soviet Archives to answer these questions. He shows us a Russia where, in 1992, used toothbrushes were sold on the sidewalks, while now shops are filled with luxury goods and the streets are jammed with Mercedes. Stalin's specter hovers throughout, and in the book's crescendo Brent takes us deep into the dictator's personal papers to glimpse the dark heart of the new Russia. Both cultural history and personal memoir, Inside the Stalin Archives is a deeply felt and vivid portrait of Russia in the twenty-first century.