Title: Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Author: Rosemary Sullivan
Publish Date: June 2, 2015
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Born in the early years
of the USSR, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the
Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass
starvation & purges that haunted Russia, but she didn't escape
tragedy—the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two
brothers, aunts & uncles, & a lover twice her age, deliberately
exiled to Siberia by her father. Gradually learning of the extent of her
father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet
& in 1967 defected to the USA—leaving her two children behind.
Altho she was never a part of her father’s regime, she couldn't escape
his legacy. Her American life was fractured; she moved frequently,
married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles & died poor in
Spring Green, Wisc.
With access to KGB, CIA & Soviet government
archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter,
Sullivan pieces together her incredible life in an account of
unprecedented intimacy. Epic in scope, it’s a revolutionary biography of
a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father’s name.
Sullivan explores a complicated character in her broader context without
ever losing sight of her powerfully human story, in the process opening
a closed, brutal world."
My Two Cents:
"Stalin's Daughter" is
the non-fiction story of Stalin's daughter Svetlana. She was, of course,
a real person but her story reads much more like fiction. She grew up
under a father who was larger-than-life. He alternated between being
very kind and being mean and manipulative of her even when she was just a
When she was in her 40s, she gave up her Soviet
citizenship and defected while on travel in India. She comes to the
United States and is taken under the wing of the Secretary of State at
the time, George Keenan. One would think that that might be the most
exciting thing that happens in this book but you would be wrong! She
joins a commune! She eventually marries an architect from Frank Lloyd
Wright's Talesin, who happens to be the son of FLW's last wife,
Olgivanna. And oh, Olgivanna ends up manipulating Svetlana too. It's a
I love learning new history from books. I don't think
before reading this book that I even knew that Stalin had a daughter.
Her story is so very strange but so very fascinating. It's no wonder
that it takes the author over 600 pages to tell her whole story.
Svetlana is a person who I feel like I know after reading this book. She
had a tumultuous life to say the very least.
Drawing on a
wealth of resources, the author brings her story to life. This book is
quite long but it flies by as Svetlana seems to have a habit of finding
chaos wherever she goes. This was a great history but showed new light
on some events that I knew nothing about before reading this book.