Born in 1879 as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, the man who would become known as Stalin, was known throughout his childhood and youth as Soso. Young Soso was born and raised in the industrial Georgian town of Gori, in the far reaches of the Russian Empire. This seething Caucasian town was a turbulent mix of piety, honor and drunken unruliness. "Gori was one of the last towns to practice the picturesque and savage custom of free for all town brawls with special rules, but no holds barred violence. Boozing, praying and fighting were all interconnected, with drunken Priests acting as referees." Soso's father was a drunken cobbler who viciously abused him. His mother was compassionate, yet maybe too much so, as she had a reputation for being promiscuous. Stalin was certainly aware, writes Montefiore, that his biological father might have been one of three neighborhood men that were close to the family. The Georgia of Stalin's youth was also steeped in a culture of rebellion and banditry. Young Soso grew up hearing stories of heroic Georgians who fought off the imperialist forces of Russia, and his original revolutionary cohorts were a turbulent admixture of dedicated Marxists and bloodthirsty criminals.
Young Stalin is on sale at Amazon.
Meanwhile, for some interesting commentary on the Russian invasion of Georgia, visit these sites.