Read Conversations with Stalin by Milovan Djilas Michael Boro Petrovich Online


Milovan Djilas was one of four senior members of Tito's government until his expulsion from the Yugoslav Communist party in '54 & eventual imprisonment on political charges. He wrote Conversations With Stalin in '61, between arrests. The book is a diary of his three voyages to Moscow in '43, '44 & '48. Djilas, memories no doubt leavened by hindsight, titles the thrMilovan Djilas was one of four senior members of Tito's government until his expulsion from the Yugoslav Communist party in '54 & eventual imprisonment on political charges. He wrote Conversations With Stalin in '61, between arrests. The book is a diary of his three voyages to Moscow in '43, '44 & '48. Djilas, memories no doubt leavened by hindsight, titles the three meetings "Raptures", "Doubts" & "Disappointments". As these names indicate, the book chronicles his growing disillusionment with Soviet-led socialism. Djilas was an educated man, a sophisticated thinker & a writer. So that when we read passages in the "Raptures" section such as, "My entire being quivered from the joyous anticipation of an imminent encounter with the Soviet Union", it seems clear he was not the naïf that he makes himself out to be. Rather, given his circumstances at the time that he was writing, he was heightening the sense of his early fascination with all things Soviet so that his later disenchantment is all the more palpable. The book fascinates with its detail. He travels to Moscow as a foreign dignitary to discuss Yugoslav-Soviet policies. He must cool his heels for days before he's finally summoned to meet Stalin. Then the meetings are typically all night dinners with copious drinking & byzantine political subtext to the conversation. Stalin dominates the discussion so thoroughly that when he insists that the Netherlands was not a member of the Benelux union, nobody dares correct him. Djilas recognizes traits of greatness in Stalin, his ruthlessness & farsightedness. He describes these not out of regard or respect, but because they are precisely the qualities which make Stalin evil. "Every crime was possible to Stalin, for there was not one he had not committed." As doubts begin to creep in, he records the development of his own cynicism. "In politics, more than in anything else, the beginning of everything lies in moral indignation & in doubt of the good intentions of others". His portraits of Krushchev, open-minded & clever; of Molotov, Stalin's taciturn lieutenant; Dimitrov, the powerful Bulgarian kept on Stalin's string; Beria, sinister & drunk; & a host of other prominent figures make this book required reading for those interested in the era. The descriptions of machinations surrounding Yugoslav-Albanian-Bulgarian politics & his unflattering characterization of Croatian hero Andrija Hebrang are of great interest to students of Balkan history....

Title : Conversations with Stalin
Author :
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ISBN : 9780156225915
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 228 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Conversations with Stalin Reviews

  • Edward
    2018-12-05 04:07

    Introduction--Conversations with StalinSelected Biographical NotesIndex

  • Manray9
    2018-11-25 01:55

    Below are comments from an interview of journalist and historian, Anna Reid, about Djilas' Conversations with Stalin. These comments appear on the excellent book site "Five Books" Djilas was Tito’s number two, and negotiated with the Kremlin on various diplomatic missions. He’s a terrific source on the grotesque late-Stalin court – the ghastly, drunken, late-night banquets at Stalin’s dacha, the bullying, fear and paranoia; the way the whole Kremlin circle was completely cut off from reality.Stalin had always been suspicious of Leningrad, disliking its Europhile bent and fearing it as an alternative centre of power. After the war he purged the city’s party leadership and cracked down on its intelligentsia, most famously on the poet Anna Akhmatova, whose son, having been released from the Gulag to fight for his country, was sent straight back to the camps. Stalin did not, however, engineer the siege –which is one theory that has been around.I include this book for the benefit of those who regard Stalin and Hitler as political and military geniuses, albeit perverted ones. Together with Hitler’s Table Talk, (if I can sneak in a sixth title), it’s a reminder that both of were not only psychopaths, but the most god-awful bores. Djilas describes Stalin’s senility and gluttony, crude jokes and inane drinking games. Hitler’s Table Talk is a collection of rants to cronies, taken down by secretaries during mealtimes at his various wartime headquarters.Check out the

  • Hadrian
    2018-11-22 04:53

    A little monograph which chronicles the descent from dewy-eyed socialist idealism into disillusionment and fear. Describes a glimpse of how Stalin ran his empire and belittled his courtiers.Also useful for an insight into the Yugoslav guerilla movement, one of the few successful cases of a socialist insurgency taking over a country in this era with relatively limited Soviet aid - Stalin promised support, but the Western allies were able to airlift most of their stuff in. Stalin was already preparing to carve up the future Warsaw Pact into little obedient fiefdoms.A good primary source for a brief analysis of both these fields.

  • Erik Graff
    2018-12-13 06:12

    This is a fascinating memoir for anyone who has been interested in the USSR under Stalin or the Yugoslav partisans as it details their encounters in Moscow during the war from the perspective of one of the latter.While primarily communist in orientation, the Yugoslav partisans were given little beyond verbal support by the USSR during WWII. In the beginning, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the partisans were actually at war on several fronts: against Serbian monarchists, the Germans, the Italians and the Croatian puppet state. Eventually, however, when the British saw that they, unlike the monarchists, were actually fighting the mutual enemy, the UK began offering aid and advisors, one of them being their Prime Minister's son. The Soviets followed along only so far as to recognize the partisans and invite them to meet with their leadership.During the war the Soviet government basically began operations at about noon, the leadership being accustomed to meet for supper, drinks and discussion at Stalin's dacha outside of Moscow during the night. These were the gatherings attended and reported in this book by author Djilas. Most personally amusing to me is his account of Stalin's interrupting the general discussion to bring in a phonograph to play a recording of "The Singing Dogs"--a group I knew from childhood for their rendition of "Jingle Bells", played seasonally by WFMT in Chicago. Stalin was much amused by this melodic arrangements of barks. Djilas, concerned about his comrades suffering back in the mountains of Bosnia, was not impressed.

  • AnaVlădescu
    2018-11-16 00:48

    Great work that shows the gradual distrust of and dissillusionment with Stalin on the part of Djilas, one of Tito's best men, and a convinced communist at the beginning of his relationship with the soviets. The picture he paints of the times he went at one or another of Stalin's famous dinners, where the fate of the USSR was decided proportionally with the ammounts of vodka ingested by the Politburo, is very detailed and offers insight into Stalin's descent into paranoia and borderline insanity. Recommended to anyone with an interest in personal details on Stalin and the fate or situation of Eastern Europe during the high-Stalinism years.

  • Zorka Zamfirova
    2018-12-10 06:00


  • فهد الفهد
    2018-12-03 04:01

    Conversations with Stalin لطالما أثار لدي اسم ستالين الرعب، بكل ما ارتبط بعهده من إرهاب وتطهير وغولاغ، وبما قادت إليه سياساته من مجاعات وتهجير لشعوب مسكينة، وكنت قد قرأت كتاب سيمون سيباغ مونتفيوري عن ستالين شاباً، وحصلت على كتابه الثاني عن ستالين بعد الثورة ولكني لم اقرأه بعد – سبعمئة صفحة بالإنجليزية -، كما شاهدت وثائقيات كثيرة عن الرجل، وكان هذا الكتاب أحد الكتب التي أردت التعرف من خلالها أكثر على شخصية ستالين، وخاصة أن مؤلفه شيوعي يوغوسلافي، فلذا سيأتي الكتاب من وجهة نظر رفاقية، كما أن الكتاب وضع بعد سنوات قليلة من وفاة ستالين، أي بعد بدء مرحلة تفكيك الستالينية والتي استهلها خروشوف سنة 1956. يعرض المؤلف ميلوفان ديلاس لزياراته الدبلوماسية لموسكو خلال الحرب العالمية وبعدها، ولقاءاته بستالين وحواراته معه، كما يعرض لمآدبه والتي كانت تستمر لست ساعات وتحفل باللحوم والأطباق السوفيتية وأنهار الفودكا، وكيف كان مصير الاتحاد السوفييتي وشعوبه يقرر خلال هذه المآدب الطويلة. الكتاب ليس بذي قيمة كبيرة، أعجبتني منه لمحات إنسانية هنا وهناك، وملاحظات ذكية، ما عدا ذلك كتب مونتفيوري بضخامتها ودقتها أفضل للمهتمين بستالين وعصره.

  • Mary
    2018-12-14 05:15

    I first read Djilas in grad school back in the early 1990s when I was writing my thesis on if the US could have done more to prevent communism in Yugoslavia. I had spent a summer in Bratislava not long after the Velvet Revolution. I was asked why we didn't do more to oppose Stalin after WWII. That haunted me. I chose to examine Yugoslavia. I've been meaning to read Convos with Stalin since then!My first thought was why the hell did the Yugoslavs travel to the USSR after they started feeling like they may take the highway (as opposed to Stalin's way)?!? They even lodged complaints against the USSR and tried to correct Stalin in person! They all new about the purges. I suppose you could argue that the KGB has a long reach so why not cooperate?In the early days Djilas loved Stalin as the embodiment of his ideals (yuck, ptooey, gross). Then he began to put things together and realized communism wasn’t all that. He got so good at putting things together that he wrote some books, ended up jailed several times by bff, Tito, eventually predicted the demise of Yugoslavia followed by that of the Soviet Union. Then he died, of, I believe, natural causes.Unsurprisingly, Stalin comes across as a gluttonous, narcissistic sociopath who likes havin’ a laugh (at other people). Djilas comes across as erudite with some serious sang froid.On Stalin: “An ungainly dwarf of a man passed through gilded and marbled halls, and a path opened before him, radiant, admiring glances followed him, while the ears of the courtiers strained to catch every word…. His country was in ruins, hungry exhausted. But his armies and marshals, heavy with fat and medals and drunk with vodka and victory, had already trampled half of Europe underfoot, and he was convinced they would trample the other half in the next round.” “For in him was joined the criminal senselessness of Caligula with the refinement of Borgia and the brutality of Tsar Ivan the Terrible.” “Stalin’s dark presence continues to hover and … one can fear it will hover over the Soviet Union for a relatively long time. Despite the curses against his name, Stalin still lives in the social and spiritual foundations of Soviet Society.” And Russian. Still. Somebody in the Kremlin reminds me of IVS.On Molotov (just before one of Stalin’s typical 6-hour bacchanal dinners that lasted until dawn): “… Molotov and I went to the toilet…. Molotov began unbuttoning his pants even as walking, commenting: ‘We call this unloading before loading!” Classy guy!On Stalin and his cronies bubble living after they had made up a silly drinking game they pressured Djilas to join: “… the confinement, the inanity and senselessness of the life of these Soviet Leaders were living gathered around their superannuated chief even as they played a role that was decisive for the human race.”On realizing communism might not be what he thought: “At every step we discovered till then unnoticed aspects of Soviet reality: backwardness, primitivism, chauvinism, a big-power complex, although accompanied by heroic and superhuman efforts to outgrow the past and overtake the natural course of events.”Awkward but clear translation.

  • Fug o' Slavia
    2018-12-13 00:01

    One of the better in the series of "The God that failed genre. Very insightful into the reasons and causes of the 1948 Stalin-Tito split and some of the less desirable aspects of Yugoslavv. However, Djilas as a whole comes off as a 1940s Yugoslav James Bloodworth, a Communist that believes in Communism so much they end up being a terrible US backed Liberal. The edition i read has an introduction from Anne Applebaum which made me sigh. It's quite interesting that Djilas later years were lived as a Ronin, constantly bleating for acknowledge of his role in the establishment of Yugoslav socialist state

  • Zebardast Zebardast
    2018-12-06 06:53

    ميلوان ميلاس، از اعضاي كميته مركزي (پوليت بورو) حزب كمونيست يوگسلاوي و از نزديكان درجه اول مارشال تيتوست كه سال ها در جبهه هاي نبرد عليه ارتش آلمان نازي مبارزه كرده است. هرچند آنچنان كه مي دانيم كميسرهايي كه از طرف حزب براي سازماندهي كارگران و دهقانان يوگسلاوي تعيين ميشدند وظيفه داشتند تا علاوه بر نبرد با ارتش اشغالگر، پايه گزار انقلاب كارگري بر عليه نظام پادشاهي يوگسلاوي نيز باشند. ميلوان جيلاس و رانكوويچ از سرشناس ترين و برجسته ترين اعضاي حزب بودند كه به سازماندهي ارتش چريكي يوگسلاوي مي پرداختند. هسته مركزي اين ارتش چريكي را حدوداً ده هزار عضو حزب كمونيست تشكيل مي داد. جيلاس كتاب خود را به چهار بخش تقسيم كرده است. در فصل اول (جاذبه) او ما را با دنياي يك مؤمن متعصب به ايدئولوژي ماركسيست آشنا مي كند. جزم انديش ها، تنگ نظري ها، صداقت و سادگي چنين فردي و ايمان رسوخ ناپذيرش كه سبب مي شود تا چشم بر هر نابساماني در سرزمين مادري كمونيست هاي جهان (شوروي) ببندند، همه و همه را از ديدگاه خود و از درون خود بيرون مي كشد و به ما معرفي مي كند. او براي اين كار عواطف و احساسات دروني خودش را، جايي كه هيچكس جز خداوند به آن دسترسي ندارد مي كاود و جز به جز آن را براي ما تشريح مي كند، از آرزوهايش و آرمان هايش با ما مي گويد و از اولين كشوري كه نظام سوسياليستي در آن به وجود آمده و به همين واسطه قبله تمام ماركسيست هاي جهان است. شوروي براي يك ماركسيست سرزمين آرزوها و رؤياها بود كه در آرزوي زيارتش صبح را به شام مي رساند، همچنان كه كعبه آمال عشق و آرزوي مسلمانان و يا واتيكان قبله هزاران هزار كاتوليك مؤمن است. بالطبع رهبر چنين كشوري نمي تواند مورد توجه و علاقه مؤمنان نباشد. آن هم رهبري با خصوصيات يوسف استالين، مردي با قاطعيت و خشونت بيش از اندازه و درعين حال حيله گر و مكار مردي كه استاد عوام فريبي و بازآفريني واقعيت است و پس از تصفيه هاي خونين دهه 1940- 1930 يگانه فرد باقي مانده از حزب انقلابي كارگر تحت رهبري ولادمير ايليچ (لنين) است. پدر زحمتكش هاي جهان كه شوروي را از كشوري عقب مانده، تبديل به يك كشور صنعتي قدرتمند كرده، حزب كمونيست يا همان سازمان پيشروي كارگري را از خطر انحراف مصون داشته و يك تنه در مقابل ارتش تا دندان مسلح آلمان فاشيست ايستاده است.گويي كه مي دانيم دستگاه تبليغاتي عريض و طويل شوروي سوسياليستي در خلق چنين چهره اي از استالين بسيار مؤثر بوده است ولي نبايد از تفكر بسته و تك بعدي ماركسيست ها كه نمونه كاملي از دگماتيسم را به نمايش گذاشتند نيز به راحتي گذشت.در اين بخش (جاذبه) جيلاس ضمن تشريح موارد ياد شده و تحليلي از وضعيت يوگسلاوي و در كل جبهه نبرد، ديده ها و شنيده هاي خودش را از اولين سفرش به اتحاد جماهير شوروي را براي ما بازگو مي كند كه شامل اولين ديدار با استالين نيز مي شود. همانطور كه از اسم اين فصل نيز آشكار است، همه چيز در نگاه اول مناسب و زيباست و هيچ كم و كاستي وجود ندارد و هيأت ويژه يوگسلاوي بعد از انجام مأموريت خود به كشورش باز مي گردد. در اينجا فصل دوم سير تفكر جيلاس آغاز مي شود، فصلي كه به درستي نام آن را ترديد گذاشته است. اولين نشانه هاي شك و ابهام در ذهن او جوانه مي زند و هرچند در ابتدا قدرت چنداني ندارد ولي خواهيم ديد كه در پايان درخت تنومندي مي شود كه اساس عقايد جيلاس را دگرگون مي كند و او را وادار به افشاگري عليه تماميت خواهي و استبداد حاكم بر نظام شوروي، مي كند و البته تاوان سنگيني نيز در اين باره مي پردازد كه در پايان كتاب به آن اشاره شده است. مطالب و شبهات ظريفي كه مانند جويبارهاي كوچك در ذهن يك مؤمن ماركسيست، لنينيست به يكديگر متصل مي شوند تا درنهايت رودي را تشكيل دهند به زيبايي به تصوير كشيده شده است. رودي كه اين مؤمنان جزم انديش را به شكستن بت خود ساخته تشويق و تحريك مي كند، بتي كه سال ها در راه آن مبارزه كرده و قرباني تقديمش كرده اند. اندك اندك با گوشت زمان اين حقيقت كه شوروي و استالين درصدد بلعيدن اروپاي شرقي هستند، بر جيلاس آشكار مي شود و همين شبهات سبب مي شود تا با ديد بازتر و چندجانبه بر شوروي سوسياليستي نگاهي مي اندازد و در اين هنگام است كه او شوروي جديدي را كشف مي كند!!!چيزهايي مي بيند كه قبلاً نمي ديد هرچند كه در مقابل ديدگانش هر روز خودنمايي مي كرد و اين كشفيات جديد، چون نوري راه را براي درك هرچه بهتر محيط اطراف و كشف هرچه كاملتر حقيقت، هموار مي سازد و ثمره اين ديدگاه جديد در فصل سوم (يأس) خودش را نشان مي دهد. چرا مأيوس و منفعل نباشد وقتي كه مي بيند نظام آرزوهايش شباهتي بي شمار با نظام امپراتوري تزارها دارد و چرا مغموم و دل شكسته نباشد وقتي كه مي بيند رهبران جنبش هاي كمونيستي چه در يوگسلاوي ، بلغارستان، چه در روماني و مجارستان همه و همه نوكران گوش به فرمان حزب كمونيست شوروي استالين هستند و از خود اراده و حتي هويتي ندارند.در اين فصل با كامل شدن اطلاعات كه از شنيدن نشنيده ها و ديدن ناديده ها به دست آمده، جيلاس درك تازه اي از جهان اطراف به دست مي آورد و اين درك تازه تمام جهان بيني او و ايدئولوژي او را تحت تأثير قرار مي دهد. اتحاد جماهير شوروي، استالين، تيتو، حزب كمونيست، انقلاب سوسياليستي و جنبش ماركسيستي جهاني، هيچكدام ديگر در نظر او آن چيزي نيستند كه بودند و اين سيلان انديشه او را وا مي دارد تا از نو ساختار فكري خود را بسازد، از نو به همه چيز مي انديشد و حتي بديهي ترين نكات را دست نخورده باقي نگذارد و در پايان اين انقلاب فكري چاره اي براي يك مؤمن باقي نمي ماند كه پيش از ديگران و بيش از ديگران بر عليه سوادگران آمال و آرزوهايش طغيان كند و ماهيتشان را افشا نمايد و نداي اصلاح و احيا سر دهد، چيزي كه با سليقه هيأت حاكمه (بخوانيد طبقه جديد تازه به قدرت رسيده در نظام هاي سوسياليستي) سخت ناسازگار مي نمايد و جيلاس بر سر همين ماجرا سال هاي بسياري از دوران كهولت خود را در زندان مي گذراند.در پايان اين سه فصل نتيجه گيري جيلاس و سپس تفسير او از استالين و روحياتش بيش از سه فصل قبلي جلب نظر مي كند. او در اين نتيجه گيري و تفسير به اين سؤال بسيار مهم پاسخ مي گويد، چگونه چنين فردي (استالين) توانست نه يكسال، نه دو سال كه بيش از سي سال بر يكي از پهناورترين و قدرتمندترين كشورهاي جهان حكوميت كند؟ دلايل بي شماري در اين باره ذكر شده كه جيلاس با دقت و ظرافت آنها را پشت سر يكديگر و به ترتيب اهميت سازماندهي مي كند و درعين حال از غربال تجربيات شخصي خود، مي گذراند. دلايلي كه نشان از ديد وسيع و همه جانبه نگر او دارد. (چيزي كه در يك مؤمن ايدئولوگ از هر فرقه و مرامي كه باشد، كم پيدا مي شود!) خصوصيات روحي و رواني استالين و مردم روسيه، جو فكري حاكم بر محافل كمونيست و ماركسيست، شرايط حاصل از جنگ جهاني دوم و بهره برداري استالين از آن و... ازجمله دلايل مهم ذكر شده در اين بخش (بخش پاياني كتاب) مي باشد.ولي زيباترين مطلب اين بخش در تحليل دو دليل خودش را نشان مي دهد، حمايت بوروكراسي عظيم شوروي و بوروكرات هاي قدرتمند از استالين و دلايل آن و دلايل شكست مخالفان درون حزبي استالين (كه به روايتي در جايگاه بالاتري از منظر ايدئولوژي مي نشستند).در اين بخش آخر، جيلاس مستقيماً به وصيتنامه لنين مراجعه مي كند و ضمن برشمردن نكات قوت و برتر تروتسكي، بوخارين، كامنف، زينوويف، الكساندرف و... به خوبي نشان مي دهد كه در اين ميان تنها استالين، يك لنينيست واقعي بود و همين مطلب يكي از مهمترين دلايل هموار شدن راه رسيدن به قدرت براي استالين به شمار مي رود. از ميلوان جيلاس كتاب هاي بسيار مهم ديگري مانند «طبقه جديد» منتشر شده است.

  • Baris
    2018-11-13 00:55

    It is not a reliable coursebook on history but has a great historical value.

  • Helen
    2018-11-28 02:08

    This was a memoir of the author Djilas' participation in meetings and interactions with Stalin during the War - and how Djilas became disillusioned with Stalin and the tight grip the Soviet government wished to retain on the Eastern European countries the Red Army had liberated from the Nazis, after the end of the war. The book is very well-written; it evokes the euphoria Djilas initially felt in traveling to Moscow and meeting with Soviet leadership, including Stalin. However, even in that first meeting, there are hints that Stalin and the leadership weren't exactly idealists, that there was a cynical or self-serving edge to all they were doing, and a mocking crudeness in Stalin; that spreading the revolution to Eastern Europe may not have been all that it seemed, that there may have been an element of substituting one imperial system (Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the case of Yugoslavia) for another (Soviet sphere of influence - "Eastern bloc" countries). The book in short is an eloquent record of the author's disillusionment and a take-down of Stalin - written several years after Stalin had died, and de-Stalinization was underway in the Soviet Union. He allows that Stalin's leadership "style" may have been the only way to modernize the USSR and successfully lead it in the war, even though he denounces Stalin as a monstrous arch-criminal. Because of his independent views, despite being a member of the communist Yugoslav government and a communist himself, Djilas was jailed in Yugoslavia under Tito. Yugoslavia did eventually take an independent position vis-a-vis the USSR - it was resisted domination by the Soviet Union even though the Yugoslav partisans received aid from the USSR during the war and the Red Army finally liberated Yugoslavia in WW2. This book is an example of idealism - almost on the level of faith - meeting the harsh reality of grubby politics, and the resulting disillusion after the realization that the "heroes" of revolution have feet of clay, to put it mildly. This work is one perspective onto a turning point in world history, when the domination of the elites was supposed to have been shattered in E. Europe with the advent of communism, so that the ordinary people or, specifically, the working class, would benefit. The trade-off was huge, though, in that even if state subsidies meant that no-one went hungry, and many things were cheap, governments inevitably resorted to terror or the imposition of a police state in order to suppress dissent. Human rights were violated - even from the time of Lenin in the USSR, there were concentration camps where dissidents would be sent, a continuation of the forced labor camps that the Tsars had maintained. Tight government control led to a kind of political paralysis - instead of "the promised land" or "Utopia" with everyone fulfilling their potential. Where before there was income inequality, with an oligarchy, and even elements of feudalism with a nobility hoarding land and money, there was now a power inequality (although that too had existed prior to the revolution). Each was overthrown - one in a bloody revolution and the other in a bloodless revolution (in Russia and most of E. Europe). Both of these systems were unsatisfactory - and the transition to "the withering away of the state" under communism, never happened. Instead, the state apparatus seemed to metastasize and grow more complex - in fact, the communist state wasn't that different from an authoritarian capitalist state; it didn't lead to freedom at all and the repression or fear didn't end. Those that experienced the communist experiment must have figured that the trade-off wasn't worth it, that the price of the classless society was too steep in terms of the loss of life due to famine and purges, exile and imprisonment in gulags, which is why all the communist governments in E. Europe and the USSR collapsed one by one like a house of cards, or dominoes falling, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These "peoples' governments" didn't have much popular support, although they once may have been seen as "hopeful" or a step forward - a step away from monarchy, feudalism, inequality, and so forth. Joseph Stalin himself may have been a true believer in communism, at least at first, and may have felt that the repression was needed to ensure the revolution succeeded - but he never loosened his tight grip on power, and under Stalin, there wasn't any hope that the terror would lift, that dissenters would be set free, or that an independent opposition might be allowed to exist. Eerily, Putin today to some extent mirrors the repression under communism - the opposition in Russia is crushed, and he is seemingly building up a personality cult just like Stalin. The lesson must be that unless there is a way to ensure politicians step down after one or two terms of office, no matter what the current ideology or economic system may be, there will always be a tendency or temptation, that is basically irresistible, for leaders to turn into dictators, and countenance no opposition, no criticism, no dissent. We can see a similar thing happening today with Trump and his never-ending attacks on the press, minorities, opposing politicians, and so forth. Since Trump seems to disdain the American system of give and take, including a free press, I can certainly see Trump declaring a state of emergency one day as a pretext to shut down totally our way of life, and in its place to impose a "Trump-worshiping" dictatorship to his liking. He'd call it America First, in the name of American citizens, and a temporary measure to save the nation, and he'll say that after "emergency measures are taken" business will thrive and full employment will result. But it won't work, it never does; he won't be able to stem the populace's discontent - no matter how many cultural buttons he presses, or tries to rally his followers with racist or sexist exhortations, or calls for religious sectarianism or intolerance. Inevitably, dictatorial systems do not last because the trade-off (economic "reform" or cultural "renaissance") isn't enough. It isn't enough to have bread on the table, if you are not allowed to talk. As usual, there are quite a few quotes: "For the Yugoslavs, Moscow was not only a political and spiritual center but the realization of an abstract ideal -- the "classless society"-- something that not only made their sacrifice and suffering easy and sweet, but that justified their very existence in their own eyes." "Political friendships are good only when each remains what he is." "...Soviet public opinion -- that is, the opinion of the Party, since no other kind exists -- was enthusiastic about the Yugoslav struggle." "Although the officers with whom we were in contact covered up or embellished the behavior of the Ukrainians, our Russian chauffeur cursed their mothers because the Ukrainians had not fought better and because now the Russians had to liberate them." "The Soviet officers are not only technically very proficient, but they also compose the most talented and boldest part of the Soviet intelligentsia." "And yet I had another feeling at the time -- horror that is should be so, that it could not be otherwise." "[Stalin] ... was the incarnation of an idea, transfigured in Communist minds into pure idea, and thereby into something infallible and sinless." "The chief reason for this was, no doubt, the development of operations on the Eastern Front -- the Red Army soon reached the Yugoslav border and was thus able to assist Yugoslavia by land." "The northern lights extend to Moscow at that time of year, and everything was violet-hued and shimmering -- a world of unreality more beautiful than the one in which we had been living." "And though, in view of his greater versatility and penetration, Stalin claims the principal role in transforming a backward Russia into a modern industrial imperial power, it wold be wrong to under-estimate Molotov's role, especially as the practical executive." "Perhaps you think that just because we are allies of the English that we have forgotten who they are and who Churchill is." "Such a dinner usually lasted six or more hours -- from ten at night till four or five in the morning." "They did not arrive in their offices before noon, and usually stayed in them till late evening." "Stalin interrupted, laughing: "One of our men was leading a large group of Germans, and on the way he killed all but one. They asked him, when he arrived at his destination: "And where are all the others?' 'I was just carrying out the orders of the Commander in Chief,' he said, 'to kill every one to the last man -- and here is the last man.'" "These words of mine [about pillaging & rape carried out by Red Army liberators in Yugoslavia], and a few other matters, were the cause of the first friction between the Yugoslav and Soviet leaders." "I became all the more adamant and determined as experience demonstrated to me the unjust, hegemonistic Soviet intentions, that is, as I freed myself of my sentimentality." "I turned increasingly to my pen and to books, finding within myself an escape from the difficulties and misunderstanding that beset me." "The relationship between myself and Andrejev, made intimate by war and suffering in prison -- for these reveal a man's character and human relations better than anything else -- was always marked by good-natured joking and frankness." "The Soviet Intelligence Service knew that in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia views on personal morality were strict an they were setting a trap to blackmail me later." "I was not yet able to draw the conclusion -- that it was precisely the Communists who were the butt and the means by which Soviet hegemony was to ensconce itself in the countries of Eastern Europe." "This contrast between formality and reality was all the more drastic because relations between the Soviet and Yugoslav Communists were still cordial, unmarred by Soviet hegemonism and competition for prestige in the Communist world." "Today I am able to conclude that the deification of Stalin, or the "cult of the personality," as it is now called, was at least as much the work of Stalin's circle and the bureaucracy, who required such a leader, as it was his own doing." "Now he was the victor in the greatest war of his nation and in history. His power, absolute over a sixth of the globe, was spreading farther without surcease. This convinced him that his society contained no contradictions and that it exhibited superiority to other societies in every way." "One has to understand the soldier. The Red Army is not ideal. The important thing is that it fights Germans -- and it is fighting them well, while the rest doesn't matter." "Stalin presented his views on the distinctive nature of the war that was being waged: "This war is not as in the past; whoever occupies a territory also imposes on it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach. It cannot be otherwise." "Beside this external knowledge gathered from courses, much more important is the knowledge that [Khrushchev] ... gained as an autodidact, by constantly improving himself, and, even more, the experience he gained from his lively and many-sided activities." "When I think back, it seems to me that the Soviet Government not only looked with satisfaction at this sharpening of Yugoslav-Western relations but even incited it, taking care, of course, not to go beyond the limits of its own interests and possibilities." "Having identified domestic progress and freedom with the interests and privileges of a political party, [Stalin] ... could not act in foreign affairs other than as a hegemonist. As with everyone, handsome is as handsome does. He became himself the slave of the despotism, the bureaucracy, the narrowness, and the servility that he imposed on his country." "...I was suitable for a straightforward discussion over a complicated and very sensitive question. However, I also believe that [Stalin]... had the intention of winning me over in order to split and to subordinate the Yugoslav Central Committee." " to the relations between the Soviet Union and the other East European countries; these countries were still being held under actual occupation, and their wealth was being extracted in various ways, most frequently through joint-stock companies in which the Russians barely invested anything except German capital, which they had simply declared a prize of war." "I suspect that not even those [Russian leaders] who made the statements [that "...all of Germany must be "ours," that is, Soviet, Communist"] actually knew how but were caught up by the flush of military victories and by their hopes for the economic and other dissolution of Western Europe." "Every crime was possible to Stalin, for there was not one he had not committed. Whatever standards we use to take his measure, in any event -- let us hope for all time to come -- to him will fall the glory of being the greatest criminal in history. For in him was joined the criminal senselessness of a Caligula with the refinement of a Borgia and the brutality of a Tsar Ivan the Terrible." "If we assume the viewpoint of humanity of freedom, history does not know a despot as brutal and as cynical as Stalin was. He was methodical, all-embracing, and total as a criminal. He was one of those rare terrible dogmatists capable of destroying nine tenths of the human race to "make happy" the one tenth." "However, if we wish to determine what Stalin really meant in the history of Communism, then he must for the present be regarded as being, next to Lenin, the most grandiose figure. He did not substantially develop the ideas of Communism, but he championed them and brought them to realization in a society and a state. He did not construct an ideal society -- something of the sort is not even possible in the very nature of humans and human society, but he transformed backward Russia into an industrial power and an empire that is ever more resolutely and implacably aspiring to world mastery." "Viewed from the standpoint of success and political adroitness, Stalin is hardly surpassed by any statesman of his time." This is a well-written, fast-paced book that should make absorbing reading for anyone interested in the Second World War, Eastern Europe, and Russia. It is a bit slow-going insofar as the many references to Soviet and Yugoslav military/partisan and political figures, but the edition includes a helpful appended section of "Selected Biographical Notes" to which the reader will undoubtedly refer again and again. Even so, this book is still interesting to read. I managed to get through it in two days - so it was definitely a "page-turner" for me, at least, especially since ordinarily I'm a slow reader.

  • Arthur
    2018-11-23 02:47

    Contrary to numerous reviews to this book, in fact it is not about post-war Yugoslavia, nor about USSR even nor about Stalin.It is easy to notice that throughout the history people used to create ideals for themselves. The main subject of the book is history of disillusionment with self-created ideals. Thus, socialism and Stalin’s figure act only as the background in this story.Djilas writes about his illusions about socialism: “…For the Yugoslavs, Moscow was not only a political and spiritual center but the realization of an abstract ideal – the 'classless society'…”During his life author faces facts that at first make him to doubt this point of view and later to revise it completely. Nothing can be harder than crashing of own ideals!Though Djilas keeps on trying to accuse of Stalin of this crash, may be it wouldn’t be so painful if the author didn't idolize Stalin from the beginning?.. At the same time, growth of each personality goes through such crashes and disappointments.Summary: this book is the Bible of denial of self-created false ideals and illusions and will be interesting for everyone who is interested in Stalin’s personality, socialism, history of USSR and Yugoslavia.

  • Joseph Butler-hartley
    2018-11-23 00:53

    If you're interested in Soviet-Yugoslav history, or if you want an interesting insight into how Stalin conducted himself and attempted to manipulate people, then I'd definitely recommend it. It's quite dry and matter-of-fact compared to other autobiographies/memoirs I've read though, so I'd say you've gotta be enthusiastic about history to enjoy it.

  • James Christensen
    2018-11-13 00:17

    Milovan Djilas (MD) was 1 of top 4 members of communist party in Yugoslavia. Book contains his recollections of the negotiations with the Russians right after WW2 as to what relationship Yugo would have with the USSR, the former wanting greater autonomy than the latter was giving every other country it was "swallowing". MD recounts his meetings with Stalin and Molotov from both a political and personal perspective. Portrays S as brilliant, crudely humorous and even well read, sly and conniving, and remorselessly brutal in eliminating anyone who got in the way of his expansion of the USSR. Initially a "worshipper" of S, MD became disillusioned of both him and communism, scared of what S was capable of, and spent many years in jail for expressing his views and even more for publishing this book. The book is worthwhile reading if for no other reason than the personal glimpses into Stalin's and Molotov's thinking and actions in private settings. Gives interesting insights into the "them and us" mentality of Soviet leaders.MD has written a number of other books about the folly of communism.

  • Sean Ragan
    2018-11-18 02:02

    I was raised by 80s action movies and know embarrassingly little of Eastern Europe and its staggering history, especially during and after WWII. For the first 40 years of my life, everything from the Baltics to the Balkans was just a sad mish-mash of bad accents, shoddy manufacturing, and sloppy Cold War tropes. Someday I want to compile a list of fictional "Eastern European" countries that were just made up for American movies at one point or another as a conveniently plausible place for the bad guys to have their base. This book, an erudite and candid memoir by one of the leading lights of the Yugoslav Revolution, was interesting to me first because it put a real, human face on Eastern European history and helped blow away some of my unfortunate stereotypes. Secondly, I have something of a fetish for first-person accounts of Stalin, especially those written by foreigners who could, once safely away from the USSR, speak frankly about their impressions without too much fear of reprisals. In Djilas's portrait of Stalin, I see very much the same man that Churchill wrote about: ruthless, manipulative, gossipy, but with a wicked sinister charm and "dark charisma" that he could wield with great affect. Churchill knew he was a monster, but came to like him anyway. Djilas, like many bright idealists drawn to Marxism in youth, had much farther to fall, and eventually did so. But it's clear enough that, at the time, he too, found Stalin compelling as a leader and attractive as a personality.

  • Grazyna Nawrocka
    2018-12-11 22:48

    Ah, disillusioned communists, who rot in prisons or Gulags refusing to become cynical! Utopias and fanatics! Throughout the book I wanted to exclaim: "I knew it!" Well, I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to some of my past neighbors who dreamed about Russia taking over Canada, and creating social justice. If this book does not open your eyes to reality, probably nothing will.

  • Florian Holzner
    2018-11-13 22:50

    Not my usual fare. Suggested to me by a colleague. Interesting read.

  • Mike
    2018-12-03 06:08

    I finished CONVERSATIONS WITH STALIN feeling uneasy. I knew I would; but my curiosity had to be satisfied. To me, Djilas remained a nationalist romantic while becoming a liberal democrat as he observed the workings of 'actually existing socialism'. Formerly, bound to the mythologies associated with Leninism and it's more or less infallible leader Stalin, Djilas takes his readers on his political journey from bright-eyed, busy tailed enthusiastic supporter of Stalin's USSR and Red Army to his final disillusionment with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Marxist-Leninist State as a force for national liberation. Djilas never grasped what socialism meant, other than what was being asserted by Party authorities. Socialism was what had been achieved by his fellow Marxist-Leninists of the Stalinist variety. He makes no observations about the wage-system, classes, class rule or commodity production. He takes it for granted that socialism and the State can co-exist. In short, he is a liberal making observations about coming see how Stalin and cohorts were murderous, amoral monsters and how the rule of the Party was, shall we say, unnecessarity nasty, brutish and anti-democratic. Djilas was certainly anti-fascist and obviously brave, having taken up arms with Tito and his followers during the guerrilla war against the German occupation of Yugoslavia . He was profoundly nationalist. He also depicted himself to be a very decent and moral man in this memoir. I shouldn't be surprised if I found that he'd embraced Christianity after being thrown out of the Yugoslav version of the Party under its minor Stalin, Tito. He certainly was celebrated in the non-Stalinist world as being a truth teller. But that was to be expected during the Cold War. Orwell's disgust with Stalinism was used in a similar way. Stalin created myriad opponents for basically, if you weren't totally subservient to him, you were an enemy or used as a pawn in power struggles. Stalin's enemies were all labeled by Stalin's obsequious followers as being enemies of the bureaucratic, Party ruled, industrial feudalism which became known eventually as, 'actually existing socialism'--a nightmare of class rule, wage-slavery and the absence of civil rights. The followers of Stalin who headed up similar regimes in various nation States of the world, took on most of the bureaucratic, organisational forms which their leader, the 'Great Stalin' had used in setting up the system of wage-slavery in the Soviet Union, ergo, 'Stalinism'.Social ownership of the collective product of labour, administered by a free association of producers i.e. the socialism of Marx, never appears as an one of the many ideological ideals which Djilas condemns as having been betrayed by Stalin's rule. In short, what Djilas gives his readers is an insight into the naive, politically ignorant mind sets (much like his own) which propelled the bureaucratic rule of Party dictatorships posing as 'socialism' as they emerged in the wake of the Leninist political project of the 20th century.

  • Greg
    2018-11-26 06:53

    Although this book is very well written, quite easy to read, and features some fascinating insights into the Yugoslavian-Soviet Union relationship at the end of World War II and into 1948, when Yugoslavia announced its independence from the Soviet Union's eastern bloc, it is probably one that will be enjoyed only by those either very interested in that period or who wish to gain some additional insights into Stalin.I first encountered Mr. Djilas as a graduate student in the 1960s when I read his recently published "The New Class" in which he reveals how the Communists -- far from abolishing the favored status of the hated bourgeois upper class -- actually found ways to emulate it. Subsequent students have fleshed out Mr. Djilas' thesis even further, of course. But the book did introduce me to a man whose intelligence and ethos I greatly admired.So it was that, half a century later, I acquired this book which I had seen cited as offering some valuable, first-person witnessed insights into Stalin.Djilas' narrative covers very few years, but they were crucial ones in the evolution of Yugoslavia's journey towards a communist, but not in the Soviet style, state. Djilas recounts three encounters with Stalin over those years in which he spoke at length with the man, though usually in the company of many others as well, and also had dinner with him and Stalin's immediate entourage. The first occurred before the war had been won when Djilas journeyed to Moscow full of early idealism towards communism, towards Russia and the efforts to build the "new communist man," and towards the great leader Stalin himself.But it did not take long for the early glow to become sullied by the starkness of reality: an emerging clarity that Yugoslavia and other communist nations were NOT to be the equal of Soviet Russia but its implements, and also that Stalin -- gifted as he was in many ways -- was also capable of the most ruthless tactics to attain his goals.Although Djilas was not expelled from the Yugoslavian communist party until the mid-50's, his writings toward the end of this book reveal not just his great disillusionment with Stalin and Soviet Russia but, indeed, growing doubts about the thrust of communism and the character of those who submitted to communist party discipline.Again, as I mentioned before, despite these significant insights, I suspect readers not already fascinated with Stalin, Soviet Russia, and this brief period of the 1940s will find this work too filled with relatively uninteresting details, such as travel itineraries, names of delegates to various meetings, etc.

  • Marley
    2018-12-01 01:07

    I first read Djilas in college and always meant to pick him up again. Conversations with Stalin is an excellent starting point. At the end of the book, even though I know better, I had to wonder how the Soviet Union stayed as long as it did. One might say,"in spite of itself." I should not admit it,but Stalin is one of my favorite, if not favorite,figures in history. How did one person manage to act out his neurosis on the stage of history, kill millions in the process, and die as the most evil man in the history of the world? (Hitler considered Stalin "a beast") I remember when he died, so he's not that distant to me. Anyway, though quite a serious memoir, I came away with the distinct feeling of black comedy. The kow-towing, the ass-kissing from people (some intellectuals other not so much) who must have, in their heads wondered, WTF am I doing here? Of course one just couldn't walk out.On a more serious note, I knew little of the WW2 and post-war set-up of the SU and the newly-constituted Communist states in E.Europe, the struggles, especially for Yugoslavia,to remain independent of Moscow. And what about Stalin's fixation with a Yugoslav-Albanian merger--or rather Yugoslavia "swallowing" Albania, as Uncle Joe like to call it. I agree with Djilas that Stalin catapulted Russia into to the 20th century with massive industrialization. Could Lenin, Trotsky, Kirvov, or even God forbid Kerensky (I am not a fan of the Kadets) done it with such vigor? One of my Russian professors opined that under a more moderate regime Russia would have ended up like Finland. I dunno.

  • Nomadman
    2018-11-22 03:51

    I felt I didn't get as much out of this as I could have done given my ignorance of many of the events the author talks about. Many of the individuals involved were likewise unknown to me, and the few details he sketches of certain prominent characters (Beria, Molotov, etc) didn't really add much to what I already knew. Regarding the man himself, Djilas probably gives as accurate a representation as he can, but they are by nature only one man's experience of a complex and multifaceted personality, and therefore a bit one-dimensional. But this isn't a bio, so much as a study in disillusionment. Split into three largish chapters -- Raptures, Doubts and Disappointments -- the author charts his gradual realization that a system that he held to be the pinnacle of human achievement was in fact nothing of the sort. The turnaround isn't quite so dramatic as it could have been, partly due to Djilas's rather low-key style that never really convinces us of his emotional states at any particular time, and partly because he never hides the fact that he's writing the work from a position of condemnation. I'll probably come back to this at a later time, when I'm a bit more familiar with the events and context.

  • Wan Ashraf
    2018-11-13 23:04

    It's better to dive into this book with a bit of knowledge of Soviet-Yugoslavia relationship during the 40s and 50s. This book however, is not a historical depiction of the relationship. Rather this is an intimate memoir of Milovan Djilas, an prominent figure in Yugoslavia Communist party. During the 40s, Djilas is involved in several trips to Kremlin for a private meeting with Stalin himself, and this book explain in detail Djilas journeys and meetings. Though historians had cross checked the details and facts in this memoir, it should be noted that this memoir has no footnotes and references. All details are derived from the writer himself.

  • Jason Mashak
    2018-11-20 02:02

    So much of what we read and hear of history are distortions, or at least magnifications of particular aspects that cause us to disregard - or not even learn about - all others. This is a great 'insider' account of a man who met (and partied) with Stalin on several occasions while representing the Yugoslav government. He later did prison time for publishing these accounts. Interesting anecdotes galore.

  • Shahab
    2018-12-05 06:53

    "Kautsky’s economic doctrines were somewhat more enlightened than those of Khrushchev, and Yugoslavia is also somewhat more enlightened than the Soviet Union. After all, Djilas said a few good things about Stalin, he said that on Chinese problems Stalin made a self-criticism."- Mao Zedungafter all bullshit...

  • Jeff
    2018-11-18 07:09

    I read this book for my Modern European history class as an extra credit assignment. I'm glad that I did because it paints a dark picture of eastern european politics as stalin was bringing the Iron Curtain over the "liberated" countries such as Yugoslavia.

  • Jamie
    2018-11-28 22:59

    This is about the interaction between Stalinist Russia and Yugoslavia. It gives more specific insight on what it was like for people involved in the Communist expansion of the area to deal with Stalin and Russia. Very interesting.

  • Vuk Prlainović
    2018-12-08 05:57

    Knjiga kojoj bi godilo da se autor zadržao na pukoj transkripciji, jer su njegovi opisi i reflekcije em kriminalno loši stilski gledano, em odaju da je sam Đilas užasno neupućen u osnove komunističke teorije. Eh, barem su sami razgovori poprilično zanimljivi.

  • Geoffrey Rose
    2018-11-17 01:51

    Classic short text by a Yugoslav partisan whose faith in Stalin is slowly diminished over the 1940s. The book is best with descriptions of Stalin and Molotov.

  • Otto
    2018-12-03 07:04

    Milovan Dijilas holds one of the keys to understanding Stalin. He can judge the man as only another of the same ideological orientation can. Displays both the character of Stalin and Dijilas.