Drawing on the wealth of unexplored material available for the first time since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Robert Service's biography of Stalin promises to be the most authoritative yet published. Evidence about Stalin has always been opaque. Stalin himself orchestrated this, silencing his witnesses and systematically distorting, hiding and destroying documents. Service brings thirty years of involvement with Russia and its history to bear on this most controversial and enigmatic of figures, concentrating not simply on Stalin as dedicated bureaucrat or serial political killer, but on a fuller assessment of the man himself. His early years in Georgia, his youthful revolutionary activism, his relationship with Lenin, with his family, with his party members: all of these formative interactions will be subject to close scrutiny, as will the central episodes in his career. The events of the October Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Terror and above all the Second World War are more open to examination than ever before, and Service will probe these to explain the nature of Stalin's personality, career and impact.