Award-winning author Rosemary Sullivan returns with a revelatory biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, a woman fated to live in the shadow of her father, notorious Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Born in 1926, Svetlana Alliluyeva spent her youth inside the Kremlin as her father’s power soared. Eighty-five years later, she died alone and penniless in rural Wisconsin. Revealed here for the first time, the many lives of Josef Stalin’s daughter form a riveting portrait of a woman who fled halfway around the world to escape her birthright.
Protected from the mass starvation and murder her father inflicted upon Russian citizens, Svetlana was not immune to tragedy. She lost her mother to suicide, and her father’s merciless purges claimed relatives and her lover (who was exiled to Siberia).
After her father’s death, Svetlana shocked the world by defecting to the United States at the height of the Cold War—leaving behind two children. There, she found only more heartbreak. She married Wesley Peters, a member of Frank Lloyd Wright’s inner circle, and they had a child. But the marriage disintegrated. No matter how much distance she put between her past and her present, she could not undo the emotional and psychological damage her father had wrought.
With access to FBI, CIA and Russian state archives, as well as with the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Sullivan has created a masterful biography that is epic in scope, yet narrated with remarkable intimacy. In this book, Sullivan cements her status as the pre-eminent literary biographer in Canada.
Sullivan draws on previously secret documents and interviews with Svetlana’s American daughter, her friends, and the CIA ‘handler’ who escorted her to the U.S. for riveting accounts of her complicated life.
Insightful and thoroughly researched. . . . This excellent and engrossing biography is suitable for anyone interested in Russian history or in Svetlana’s struggle to make a difference in a world that never could separate her from her father.
Sullivan tells a nuanced story that, while invariably sympathetic, nonetheless allows readers the freedom of their own interpretations. The complex and tragic figure that emerges offers an extraordinary glimpse into one of the grimmest chapters of the past century.
Stalin’s Daughter is a captivating tale of intrigue, tragedy and survival.