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Service - biography, life chronology, poetry archive, discussion forum & trivia - a well-rounded site celebrating the life & works of Robert Service.

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Stalin — Robert Service | Harvard University Press

The Original Home Page of Robert W Service. His poetry, biography, recitations, links.
The book has its flaws and its difficulties. It is not in any sense a walk in the park; but then, it's not Service's fault that Lenin spent so much time wrangling over policy in various socialist congresses. The passages which deal with Lenin's intellectual development - his reliance on a mixture of Marx, Hegel and Aristotle - are among the most interesting. Service goes a little dotty over Inessa Armand, who was probably Lenin's lover for a while ("her nostrils were wonderfully flared"), but the book's chief fault - which, I assume, comes with the territory of being a specialist in Soviet history - is that Service assumes a level of background knowledge the reader may well not possess. The transformation from plotter to ruler seems somehow magical; the picture of how much influence Lenin had before 1917 is unclear, as is the level of oppression in pre-revolutionary Russia (how many political prisoners and exiles were there, for instance?). But it's still surprisingly absorbing, and a lot less creepy than reading about some other dictators I could mention.

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Robert W Service - Poetry & Biography of the Famous …
(son of President William H. Taft, nephew of Charles Phelps Taft, father of Robert Taft, Jr.), a Senator from Ohio; born in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 8, 1889; attended the public schools of Cincinnati, Ohio, and of Manila, Philippine Islands, and Taft School, Watertown, Conn.; graduated from Yale University in 1910 and from Harvard University Law School in 1913; admitted to the Ohio bar in 1913 and commenced practice in Cincinnati, Ohio; director in a number of business enterprises in Cincinnati; assistant counsel, United States Food Administration 1917-1918; counsel, American Relief Administration 1919; member, Ohio house of representatives 1921-1926, serving as speaker and majority leader 1926; member, Ohio Senate 1931-1932; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1938; reelected in 1944 and again in 1950 and served from January 3, 1939, until his death; majority leader 1953; co-chairman, Joint Committee on the Economic Report (Eightieth Congress), chairman, Committee on Labor and Public Welfare (Eightieth Congress), Republican Policy Committee (Eightieth through Eighty-second Congresses); sponsored the Taft-Hartley Act, designed to create equity in collective bargaining between labor and management; unsuccessful candidate in 1940, 1948, and 1952 for the Republican presidential nomination; died in New York City, July 31, 1953; lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, August 2-3, 1953; interment in Indian Hill Episcopal Church Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Review: Stalin by Robert Service | Books | The Guardian

Monster, weirdo or policy wonk? Nicholas Lezard considers Lenin: A Biography, by Robert Service
The fat political biography has an antipodal relationship with the fat literary biography: even if it's dull, it's useful. (Literary and political autobiography are also, for the most part, opposites: the former is an exercise that should be compulsory, while the politician's memoirs are almost invariably mendacious and self-serving.) Robert Service, as a prose stylist, is no Trotsky; but with his bland and strangely exculpatory account of Lenin's life we can finally claim to get some way inside the mind of one of the previous century's more enigmatic dictators (as well as the chance to carry around a large red book with "Lenin" printed on it in big letters, which guarantees the reader a wide berth on public transport).

This is a boiled-down, rejigged version of Service's three-volume political life of Lenin, which was made possible by the opening up of Kremlin archives; until then, biographies of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov were thin on the ground and hedged by protocol, dogma or fear. It emerges that the individual perhaps more responsible for the 20th century's shape than any other was not so much a monster as a weirdo - and not even a particularly outlandish weirdo. The ultimate policy wonk (even his death mask appears to be frowning in concentration), he was strict with himself and others. He had frighteningly little time for loafers; or, indeed, for much that distracted him from the business of the Revolution. We may speculate that had his elder brother, a more affable and humane type altogether, not been executed for plotting against the Emperor Alexander III, history would have taken a very different turn.

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But unlike his biography of Lenin, Robert Service's Stalin never quite comes to life. Episodes are tantalising but the reader is rarely transported. Service tells us, for example, that Stalin was present at interrogations and confrontations with arrested former comrades and army officers. We knew he had signed execution lists, even jotted "beat them" beside names, but the image of Stalin actually sitting in on interrogations is new to me. However, the book makes no attempt to explore the dramatic implications.

Robert W Service, The Original Homepage - RobertWService…

Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.

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His time in exile in Siberia, (nothing on what he later handed out to millions of fellow citizens in the gulag) highlighted his worst traits. Even his fellow revolutionaries in exile found his selfishness unbearable, as he got on with reading Machiavelli and bedding underage girls. But the point is made that Stalin not only had an education but read voraciously all his life. And Service points out that Stalin's writings, while not particularly original, were robust and clear and served their target audience well.