Staff Review: Stalin’s Daughter – Rosemary Sullivan

Reviewed by Klaartje

Stalin's DaughterStalin was the biggest Russian Soviet dictator, who was responsible for the death of millions of Russians. He fulfilled Lenin’s plan, the leader of the USSR. Stalin was paranoid of losing his power and helped build up the intelligence service KGB. If he knew your name, you couldn’t be certain of how long you had left to live.

Svetlana was one of the few of his relatives who survived. In the beginning she was unaware of the true nature of her father. Slowly his dark side became visible.

Rosemary Sullivan describes Svetlana’s life in an empathic way. It was impossible for Svetlana to make intimate friends, because almost everybody used her as propaganda. Both the CIA and the KGB kept an eye on her. She loved reading and writing and was inspired by many influential writers whom she knew personally, such as Jerzy Kosinski and Isaiah Berlin. I found it interesting to have a look through Svetlana’s perspective.

She defected in 1967, which was a gamble, but she succeeded taking her manuscript with her. All the money she earned with her first book, even before it was printed, was enough to live for about 15 years. This was with the help of George Keenan, who gave the manuscript to Edward Greenbaum to get it published by Harper & Raw. If she had understood more about money, she could have had a good life without having to work. But Svetlana was poor in the last years of her life because she married the wrong guy and kept on giving to others.

The book finishes with her death in 2011 and the scattering of her ashes.

Thank you Rosemary Sullivan for writing this great book!

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More staff reviews can be found here.

There is an e-book of Stalin’s Daughter available here.