This astounding and utterly condemnatory account of the purges of the Thirties and other acts of elimination at the behest of Stalin comes to us through a former high Soviet official who escaped the death inevitable for one in the know. To assure his personal power and to taste the sweetness of revenge, Stalin cunningly improvised a chain of accusations with the murder of Kirov, Leningrad favorite, as the base. From this stemmed the trials and extermination of the old Bolsheviks, of the NKVD officers including Yogada who knew too much about the purges. The methods of interrogation and threat and the victims' reactions form a terrible picture. Orlov relates how the victims were brought to heel; he writes of Stalin's dependence on Yogada the careerist; he details Gorky's reaction to being a virtual prisoner of Stalin; he surmises the cause of the death of Stalin's young wife. He reveals the fearful, ruthless and clever dictator who destroyed political rivals, army leaders, renowned doctors, closest friends to win his single way. We come to know the ambitious, the honorable, the cruel men who were caught in the flames of Stalin's inferno. Part of this violent history has appeared in Life.