Stalin: cut, cut and cut again

Stalin as historian

David Brandenberger has painstakingly studied the writing and editing of the famous Short course. Khrushchev’s account of Stalin simply wanting to feed his own personality cult is badly misleading

The 1938 Short course on the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) was the central catechism of the Stalin-era ideological canon in the USSR and a textbook designed for mass consumption and indoctrination.1 Compulsory reading for Soviet citizens of all walks of life, it was ubiquitous in the USSR between 1938 and 1956. Over 40 million copies of the book circulated in over a dozen languages, with hundreds of thousands more appearing in places as far-flung as Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Beijing, Paris, London and Rome.2

When the Short course first appeared in print in September 1938, it was rumoured that it had been written by Joseph Stalin himself, despite the fact that it was officially attributed to an anonymous central committee editing commission. Such an imprimatur meant that the text immediately became the centrepiece of the Bolshevik canon. Thereafter, the Short course remained at the centre of party ideology and propaganda until Nikita Khrushchev denounced it in his ‘secret speech’ to the 20th Party Congress in 1956.

In retrospect, it is hard to exaggerate the importance of the Short course to the 20th century history of the international, Moscow-aligned communist movement. In the USSR, the Short course was not only omnipresent, but it was allowed to govern all references to the Soviet historical experience in official mass culture. This was true not only in school history textbooks and academic scholarship, but in the belles lettres as well as on the theatrical stage and silver screen. Even the display cases of Soviet museums were arranged in conformity with the text’s new storyline. The Short course was, in other words, the USSR’s master narrative - a hegemonic statement on history, philosophy and ideology that scripted Soviet society for the better part of a generation.

Once published in the USSR, the Short course was then distributed elsewhere in the world by Comintern during the last years before the start of World War II.3 Between 1941 and 1945, copies of the text went into battle with Red Army soldiers and Yugoslav partisans. After the war, the Short course came to serve as a blueprint for the building of socialist societies abroad, first in the new people’s democracies of eastern Europe and then the People’s Republic of China.4

Withdrawn from circulation in 1956, the Short course nevertheless enjoyed quite an afterlife. Even after the book disappeared from library shelves and party history syllabi, the Short course’s structuring of Bolshevik Party and Soviet state history remained central to the ideological canon in the USSR well into the Gorbachev period. Outside the USSR, the Short course continued to explicitly shape party- and state-building priorities in China into the 1970s. Beyond the communist bloc, the Short course also enjoyed a long afterlife, playing a central role in many communist and anti-communist critiques of Stalinism. Even today, it serves in some quarters as a symbol of dogmatism and closed-minded orthodoxy.

This article surveys the findings of a new critical edition of the Short course entitled Stalin’s master narrative.5 A 700-page book issued by Yale University Press in 2019, it represents the results of my 12-year research collaboration with Mikhail Zelenov, a leading Russian researcher. In this article, I will provide a sketch of the Short course’s historical and historiographical context, describe the methodology behind this new critical edition and then outline a series of key findings that allow us to identify Stalin as one of the 20th century’s most influential historians of the Russian revolutionary movement, the Bolsheviks’ 1917 seizure of power and the ensuing two decades of Soviet state-building.

Secret speech

Referred to by Soviet authorities during Stalin’s reign as an “encyclopaedia of Bolshevism”, the Short course enjoyed an unchallenged ideological monopoly in the USSR between 1938 and 1956.

Although Lev Trotsky was quick to denounce the book in 1939 after its publication, perhaps the most influential critic of the Short course was Khrushchev, who famously assailed it, as he denounced his former mentor in his 1956 ‘secret speech’. Using the Short course to demonstrate Stalin’s immodesty, Khrushchev connected many of the book’s idiosyncrasies to his predecessor’s ostensibly craven need for recognition and self-aggrandisement. The Short course, for Khrushchev, was a central element of Stalin’s cult of personality, which he considered responsible for the worst excesses of the Stalin period.

Khrushchev’s speech proved formative in nearly all subsequent assessments of the book, both at home and abroad. In the USSR, Boris Ponomarev and other members of the Khrushchev-era party establishment denounced the Short course for the way it had ossified party history and Marxist-Leninist theory.6

Outside of the communist bloc, anti-communist Sovietologists, such as Leonard Shapiro, Paul Avrich, Sydney Ploss and Robert C Tucker, published analyses that closely followed Khrushchev’s criticisms of the text in their indictment of Stalinism.7 Intellectual historians such as Leszek Kołakowski and Andrzej Walicki went further, using Khrushchev’s criticism to denounce the Short course as epitomising the totalitarian nature of Stalinist thought.8

After Khrushchev’s fall from grace in 1964, Soviet historians observed an unofficial taboo in regard to critical commentary on the Short course for over 20 years. When this taboo was lifted after the advent of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost programme, party historians with access to the archives - Nikolai Maslov, Dmitry Volkogonov, etc - reiterated Khrushchev’s denunciation of the text as a cornerstone of Stalin’s cult of personality.9 Few specialists have challenged this point of view in the scholarly literature since 1991.

The brief historiographic survey above demonstrates two things. First, it testifies to the long afterlife that the Short course enjoyed after 1956. Second, it reveals that much of the existing criticism of it is rather methodologically suspect, insofar as it uncritically accepts at face value Khrushchev’s hyperbolic, politicised denunciation of Stalin.10

The Short course’s problematic historiography explains part of the reason why I joined forces some 12 years ago with Mikhail Zelenov, a researcher at Moscow’s former Central Party Archive, in order to write a definitive study of the book. Our second justification for this work was essentially a corollary of the first: if the Short course was known to have played a massive role in both the writing of Stalinist party history and in its anti-communist and anti-Stalinist critique, relatively little was known about its actual genealogy and evolution.

Zelenov and I, therefore, developed Stalin’s master narrative as a critical edition of the Short course that would first contextualise the text within the Stalinist 1930s and then quantify and classify Stalin’s editorial interventions into the history itself. In so doing, it would resolve once and for all precisely what Stalin had interpolated into and excised from this all-important book. Successful analysis of the Short course, in turn, would allow Stalin’s master narrative to characterise with unprecedented precision the general secretary’s impact on the Bolshevik Party canon and the writing of party history in the USSR.

Stalin’s master narrative republishes the original 1939 English translation, while representing Stalin’s interpolations in italics and his deletions in text that has literally been struck out - a graphic layout technique that I devised in order to capture some of the violence with which Stalin edited the Short course.

A summary record of the general secretary’s interventions into party history, Stalin’s master narrative records only those edits of Stalin’s that actually made it into print. Intermediate drafts and abortive editorial changes are not reflected in this critical edition, as their inclusion would have made this 500,000-word volume balloon to nearly a million words in length. Zelenov and I plan to produce a more layered, comprehensive record of Stalin’s interpolations and excisions for the Russian edition when it appears in two or three years time.


The archival record demonstrates that the Short course’s origins date back to the late 1920s, when the party leadership expressed frustration over the lack of a single, official line on party history. Stalin spurred this ‘search for a usable past’ forward in 1931 with his famous letter to the party’s ideological journal Proletarskaia Revoliutsiia [Proletarian Revolution], in which he complained about the “scholastic” nature of existing party histories and called for a new, more approachable catechism for mass indoctrination and mobilisation.

Despite Stalin’s personal involvement in this ‘search for a usable past’, it took party historians the better part of six years to develop an even minimally acceptable party history. And even then, when party historians Yemelian Yaroslavsky and Petr Pospelov finally delivered to Stalin the page proofs of their prototype Short course in April 1938, the general secretary declared the text to be unsatisfactory. Refusing to authorise the book’s release or return it to its authors for further revision, Stalin instead decided to personally rewrite vast stretches of the Short course that summer before its publication in September 1938.

Stalin’s editorial revisions to the text concern both style and content. His stylistic interventions are best thought of as consisting of several different categories. First, it is important to note that Stalin was a compulsive editor who read reports, draft legislation and even published books with a pencil or chemical crayon in hand, proofing as he went. He was pedantic about terminology and preferred formal, sober writing. He disliked flowery language, as well as literary devices like foreshadowing.

Second, Stalin was a propagandist and populariser at heart and was perennially concerned about the clarity of writing intended for a mass readership. In regard to the Short course, he demanded not only that the book be clearly written, but also that it be tightly structured around a handful of key themes. This led him to strike huge amounts of detail, lengthy digressions and even entire subsections from Yaroslavsky’s and Pospelov’s prototype, in order to foreground what he felt were the most important priorities of party history.

Third, if Stalin was concerned about the clarity and agenda of the Short course, he was even more concerned about its central theme - its red thread, as it were. When Yaroslavsky and Pospelov delivered their prototype to him in April 1938, they had structured the text around themes that he had sanctioned earlier in 1937 - particularly the party leadership’s alliance with the worker-peasant masses against the enemies of the revolution. When Stalin rewrote the Short course, he deprioritised the struggle with the opposition in order to highlight other themes. Stressing the vanguard nature of the Bolshevik Party, he reduced the movement’s reliance on the worker-peasant masses.

Equally important to Stalin in 1938 was the party’s struggle to build ‘socialism in one country’ and unify Soviet society. Although this ideological priority had been present in Yaroslavsky’s and Pospelov’s prototype text, Stalin now made socialism in one country such a central element in the text that it subordinated the struggle with the opposition and the revolution itself.

Finally and most surprisingly, Stalin was so committed to celebrating the vanguard nature of the party and the primacy of Soviet state-building that he even reduced his own role in the historical narrative - something I will return to below.

Case studies

Due to space limitations, my survey of Stalin’s content-oriented editorial revisions focuses on six major case studies rather than a comprehensive accounting of the entire volume.

1. October 1917

Stalin’s understanding of 1917 underwent a profound transformation over time. During the early years of the Soviet experiment in the 1920s, Stalin espoused a conventionally Leninist view of the revolution, in which domestic events were contextualised within internationalist ideals and a focus on party leadership was complemented by grassroots worker-peasant voluntarism. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Stalin’s early analysis was his insistence that nationality be considered alongside class as a key source of revolutionary consciousness. Yaroslavsky and Pospelov described the history of 1917 in pretty much this way, when they developed their Short course prototype in 1937-38.

When Stalin turned to editing the book that summer, however, he rewrote the narrative, transforming this revolution of the workers of the world into an almost exclusively Russian revolution - realised from above by the central Bolshevik command. Activism - whether on the part of workers, soldiers, peasants, women, youth or the non-Russian minorities - was downgraded or deleted. Local party organisations were likewise left to languish. Proletarian internationalism and the larger global context of 1917 gave way to the autarky of socialism in one country and the vanguard of the central party apparatus.11

2. Soviet internationalism

Internationalism was a core element of early Bolshevik propaganda and, despite the leadership’s growing pragmatism after the October 1917 revolution, the concept remained key to party self-representation. The prototype Short course prepared by Yaroslavsky and Pospelov for Stalin’s vetting contained many of the traditional hallmarks of Soviet internationalism and spent a considerable amount of time detailing the global context for the October 1917 revolution and socialist construction that followed. The international revolutionary movement received considerable attention as well, as did the Comintern and its leadership of foreign communist parties. Finally, the conspiracies that threatened the survival of the Bolshevik Party and Soviet state were given a global dimension by linking them to the international agents of imperialism and the world capitalist system.

Stalin rejected this internationalist narrative and reframed much of the history of the party and state in sui generis terms, stressing the ‘Russianness’ of the revolution and the autarchic nature of socialist construction that followed, in line with his doctrine of socialism in one country.12 This turn away from the global nature of the revolutionary movement was matched by a radical reduction in the amount of attention cast toward the Comintern. Even the international dimensions of the struggle with the opposition, which had been one of the defining characteristics of party history in the prototype text, were revised by Stalin’s red pen. Although Stalin did not entirely eliminate the connection of domestic anti-party conspiracies to foreign imperialists abroad, he reduced the level of this international coordination - something that rendered the oppositionists more home-grown, isolated and disorganised, and the nature of the party’s struggle more domestic than international.13

3. National question

Nationality policy and inter-ethnic relations were considered Stalin’s forte in the early Bolshevik movement and he regularly asserted in public after 1917 that the revolution was emancipatory not just in class terms, but in ethno-national terms as well.

In 1938, however, a combination of factors led Stalin to downgrade the historical priority of the national question. More important, in Stalin’s eyes, was the construction of a streamlined, unified historical narrative that would reinforce the authority and agency of the central party apparatus. In other words, Stalin had decided that the Short course was not meant to tell the story of a multicultural struggle for a diverse, egalitarian society. Instead, it was to celebrate the determination of a monolithic, vanguard party to overthrow the old regime and build socialism in one country.14

4. Great Terror

The period in which Yaroslavsky and Pospelov developed their prototype Short course for Stalin, between 1937 and 1938, was the height of the purges. As such, the prototype narrative turned out to be an absolutely paranoiac, claustrophobic vision, in which domestic oppositionists and capitalist holdovers colluded with foreign imperialists to undermine the construction of socialism in the USSR. Plots and dirty dealing abounded from 1917 forward. According to Yaroslavsky and Pospelov, by 1937-38 a massive omnipresent conspiracy united an unlikely alliance of leftists, rightists, domestic nationalists and foreign imperialists against the USSR.

Although Stalin had supervised the construction of this narrative, he rejected it during the summer of 1938 - something that I think indicates that he was beginning to have second thoughts about the Great Terror. As Stalin edited the Short course, he reduced the attention that the text afforded to this omnipresent conspiracy. He disentangled domestic oppositionists from domestic capitalist holdovers, denying opponents like Nikolai Bukharin and Alexei Rykov direct influence over groups like the kulaks. At the same time, Stalin reduced the level of contact and coordination between domestic oppositionists and foreign imperialists abroad - changes that reduced the coherence of their overall conspiracy.

In the end, these changes transformed the prototype’s threat of an all-powerful, imminent, existential, omnipresent conspiracy into a less concrete, more abstract menace. Stalin also rolled back the immediacy of the conspiracy by decoupling it from specific crises that the USSR was facing and by asserting that any terroristic plans already in motion had been arrested by the purges. In so doing, Stalin reduced the primacy of the party’s struggle with its enemies and reoriented the narrative around efforts to build socialism and unify Soviet society.15

5. Winds of war

Stalin’s revisions to the text regarding the impending threat of war during the late 1930s were similarly consequential. Yaroslavsky and Pospelov had designed their prototype party history to reflect an existential sense of danger to the USSR and the world socialist movement. The great depression was said to have panicked the capitalist countries into brutally suppressing working class activists at home, while plotting a new imperialist war against the USSR.

Stalin reversed this argument, as he revised the Short course. Stressing the USSR’s commitment to peace and national defence, he argued that Soviet society was much less subject to the threat of impending invasion than Yaroslavsky and Pospelov had suggested. According to Stalin, although a second world war had already begun, this was a war between capitalist powers that did not pose an imminent, existential threat to the USSR. This assessment - likely informed by the Spanish civil war, the Austrian Anschluss and the Sudetenland crisis - probably left Stalin feeling ambivalent about the need for a collective security agreement with Great Britain and France and laid the groundwork for a non-aggression treaty with Nazi Germany a year later.

6. Personality cult

When Khrushchev denounced Stalin during the 20th Party Congress in 1956, he noted that his predecessor had had the Short course written in such a way as to exaggerate his personal role in the text. This contention quickly became popular both at home in the USSR and abroad, as it seemed to confirm all the egotistical excesses of the personality cult.16

Yaroslavsky and Pospelov’s prototype textbook generally conformed to Khrushchev’s characterisation of party history under Stalin, insofar as it attributed a vast amount of historical agency to the general secretary. Particularly after Lenin’s death in 1924, the general secretary is credited with almost everything of any significance in the affairs of party and state.

When Stalin turned to vetting the prototype Short course, however, he objected to the centrality of his biography within the text. Evidence suggests that Stalin regarded his personality cult - as well as the one celebrating Lenin - to be a necessary evil of sorts: a concession to an ill-educated Soviet population that was unable to make sense of unadulterated Marxism-Leninism on its own. Indeed, Stalin believed that his role in Soviet mass propaganda was to personify the party vanguard that was to lead the USSR forward to socialism. In other words, it was not meant to be a personality cult at all - his role in history was to embody the wisdom of the party leadership.17

For that reason, during his editing of the Short course, Stalin repeatedly reassigned the historical agency that Yaroslavsky and Pospelov had given him in their prototype text to either Lenin or the central party apparatus, elevating particularly the latter institution at his own expense. These editorial interventions resulted in the excision of passages, paragraphs and entire pages from the manuscript. Ultimately, Stalin removed so much about himself from the Short course that Pospelov wrote to him in August 1938 in order to protest at the scale of the deletions.

This is not to say, of course, that when the Short course appeared in print, it had been entirely purged of its hagiographic commentary on Stalin. Even after such extensive editing, the text remained a component within the general secretary’s personality cult. But Stalin’s editing of the book reveals that he intended his cult to do more than merely indulge his ego. It was intended to serve an instrumental, mobilisational purpose by deploying the general secretary as the personification of the Soviet experiment.


Stalin’s revisions discussed in the six case studies above demonstrate the scale and magnitude of his work as editor-in-chief. By extension, they reveal the Short course to have served as Stalin’s master narrative for understanding party history, the revolution, the origins of the Soviet state and the construction of socialism in one country.

It is important to note here that many other historical junctures and thematic priorities affected by Stalin’s editing remain to be analysed by other scholars and activists. Much of the early revolutionary period - from the 1912 Prague conference to the confusion within Bolshevik ranks in March 1917 - has yet to be fully investigated and integrated into the literature. So too does a proper assessment of issues concerning the Short course’s treatment of broader subjects, such as class, gender, nationality, youth, ethnicity, regionalism and international affairs.

This article contends that Stalin’s editing of the Short course reveals the general secretary circa 1938 to have thought of party history in almost exclusively domestic, autarchic, vanguardist terms. Under the influence of Stalin’s red pen, earlier historical emphases on class and worker-peasant activism, national liberation, socialist internationalism and the struggle with the opposition gave way to the all-important struggle to build socialism in one country.

This article has also contended that, although Stalin ought to be regarded as one of the most influential historians of the Russian revolutionary movement and the origins of Soviet power, he did not - as Khrushchev, Tucker and others have alleged - rewrite party history as his own autobiography. This is not to deny, of course, that Stalin was a shameless narcissist. Indeed, he may well have enjoyed many of the hallelujahs sung in his name. But in his editing of this all-important text he intentionally reassigned some of the agency given to him in Yaroslavsky’s and Pospelov’s prototype in order to make the Short course more of a history of the Bolshevik Party and Soviet state than an autobiography of himself.

Controversy remains about what Stalin’s editing of the Short course suggests about his identity as a Marxist and a follower of Lenin. This is not a new debate - scholars and activists have long differed over whether Stalinism should be considered an extension of Leninism, characterised by ideological continuity, or whether it should be considered to represent a break with Marxist-Leninist traditions.

I think the Short course demonstrates Stalin to have been a Marxist true believer and to have considered himself to be operating in conformity with the precepts of Leninism. Stalin’s revisions to the Short course reveal him to have used the book to essentialise Marxism-Leninism’s broad and diverse tradition of thought into a handful of key concepts - vanguardism, socialism in one country, the struggle with the opposition - that he believed were necessary to unify and mobilise Soviet society.18 In the process of this editing, Stalin at least temporarily subordinated key themes - most notably proletarian internationalism - to the more etatist priorities of state. At the same time, he probably also exaggerated other elements of Leninism, particularly concerning the party vanguard as an agent of revolutionary change. In my view, the general secretary’s essentialisation of key Marxist-Leninist principles rendered Stalinism more dogmatic, rigid and schematic than other elements of the broader tradition, but it did not justify his expulsion from the canon entirely.

That said, as noted above, there is much left to do in order to fully appreciate Stalin’s ideological interventions into the Short course. Zelenov and I chose to publish our research as a critical edition rather than a more narrow, monographic study, in order to enable the book’s readership to interact directly with the historical record itself.19 In so doing, we hope to return ideology to centre stage in the ongoing study of Stalinism.

  1. Istoriia Vsesoiuznoi kommunisticheskoi partii (bol’shevikov): Kratkii kurs Moscow 1938.↩︎

  2. The most famous English-language edition of the Short course - published in Moscow in 1939 and then in London, New York, San Francisco, etc, was assembled by a team of translators, including CPGB members John Evans and JR Campbell - the latter a correspondent and later editor of the CPGB’s Daily Worker.↩︎

  3. See, for example, ‘Preparations for the mass distribution of the Short course on the history of the CPSU (B) in the USA’ (co-edited with MV Zelenov) Istoricheskii arkhiv (Historical archive) 5 (2013), pp137-46.↩︎

  4. H Li, ‘Instilling Stalinism in Chinese Party members: absorbing Stalin’s Short course in the 1950s’ in T Bernstein and H Li (eds) China learns from the Soviet Union, 1949-present Plymouth 2010, pp107-30.↩︎

  5. D Brandenberger and M Zelenov (eds) Stalin’s master narrative: a critical edition of the Short course on the history of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) New Haven 2019.↩︎

  6. BN Ponomarev et al (eds) Istoriia KPSS (History of the CPSU) Moscow 1962, p506.↩︎

  7. L Shapiro, ‘A new history - a new mythology’ Problems of communism Vol 9, No1 (1960), pp58-61; L Shapiro The Communist Party of the Soviet Union New York 1960, pp471-72; P Avrich, ‘The Short course and Soviet historiography’ Political Science Quarterly Vol 75, No4 (1960), pp541-43; SI Ploss, ‘The Bolshevik past as the first secretary likes it’ World Politics Vol 13, No1 (1960-61), p79; SI Ploss, ‘Soviet party history: the Stalinist legacy’ Problems of communism Vol 21, No4 (1972), pp35-36; R Tucker Stalin in power: the revolution from above New York 1990, pp532-37; see also R Tucker Stalin as revolutionary: a study in history and personality, 1879-1929 New York 1973.↩︎

  8. L Kołakowski Main currents of Marxism Oxford 2005, p863 (the first edition of this book was published in English and Polish in 1978); A Walicki Marxism and the leap to the kingdom of freedom: the rise and fall of the communist utopia Stanford 1995, pp431-43.↩︎

  9. NN Maslov, ‘The Short course on the history of the ACP(B) - an encyclopaedia of Stalin’s cult of personality’, Questions in CPSU History Vol 11 (1988), pp51-67; DA Volkogonov Triumph and tragedy: a political portrait of IV Stalin Moscow 1989, Vol 1, pp216-17; Vol 2, pp143-48.↩︎

  10. Until now, only a handful of scholars have looked carefully at the archival documents associated with the Short course since their declassification in the 1990s. See F Bettanin The myth factory: history and politics in the Stalinist USSR Naples 1996, pp151-78; E van Ree The political thought of Joseph Stalin: a study in twentieth century revolutionary patriotism London 2002, pp165, 309-10; R Service Stalin: a political biography Cambridge Mass

    2004, p361; S Davies, ‘Stalin and the making of the leader cult in the 1930s’ in B Apor et al (eds) The leader cult in communist dictatorship: Stalin and the eastern bloc Basingstoke 2005, pp29-46; D Brandenberger Propaganda state in crisis: Soviet ideology, indoctrination and terror under Stalin, 1928-1941 New Haven 2011.↩︎

  11. D Brandenberger, ‘Stalin’s rewriting of 1917’ Russian Review Vol 76, No4 (2017), pp667-89.↩︎

  12. It is worth mentioning that Stalin’s shift to a more particularistic, ‘Russian’ revolutionary paradigm should be understood as representing a more etatist, statist set of priorities rather than a national-Bolshevik, Russian-nationalist agenda. Stalin did not allow the Short course to traffic in ethnocentric, nationalist sloganeering in 1938 despite the presence of Russo-centrism elsewhere in pre-war Soviet mass mobilisational propaganda.↩︎

  13. D Brandenberger, ‘The fate of inter-war Soviet internationalism: a case study of the editing of Stalin’s 1938 Short course on the history of the ACP(B)’ Revolutionary Russia Vol 29, No1 (2016), pp1-27.↩︎

  14. D Brandenberger and MV Zelenov, ‘Stalin’s answer to the nationality question: a case study in the editing of the 1938 Short course’, Slavic Review Vol 73, No4 (2014), pp859-80.↩︎

  15. D Brandenberger, ‘Ideological zig zag: official explanations for the Great Terror, 1936-1938’ in J Harris (ed) The anatomy of terror: political violence under Stalin Oxford 2013, pp143-60.↩︎

  16. D Brandenberger, ‘Stalin and the muse of history: the dictator and his critics on the editing of the 1938 Short course’ in V Tismaneanu and B Iacob (eds) Ideological storms: intellectuals and the totalitarian temptation Budapest 2019, pp41-61.↩︎

  17. D Brandenberger, ‘Stalin as symbol: a case study of the cult of personality and its construction’ in S Davies and J Harris (eds) Stalin: a new history Cambridge 2005, pp249-70.↩︎

  18. Several key elements of Marxism-Leninism associated with Stalin - particularly his thesis of ‘socialism in one country’ - turn out to stem from Lenin and other earlier authors within the Marxist canon. See E van Ree Boundaries of utopia. imagining communism from Plato to Stalin New York 2015.↩︎

  19. Zelenov and I have also published a volume of documents on the assembly and editing of the Short course: MV Zelenov and D Brandenberger (eds) Kratkii kurs istorii VKP(B): Teksti ego istoriia (The ‘Short course’ on the history of the ACP(B): the text and its history), Moscow 2014, Vol 1.↩︎