Montefiore, Simon Sebag 1965–
Montefiore, Simon Sebag 1965–
(Sebag Montefiore, Simon Sebag-Montefiore)
PERSONAL: Born June 27, 1965, in London, England; son of Stephen Eric (a doctor) and April (a writer; maiden name, Jaffe) Sebag-Montefiore; married Santa Palmer-Tomkinson (a novelist); children: two. Education: Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, B.A., 1987, M.A., 1991. Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Home—1 Devonshire Place, London W1, England; 300 Mercer St., Apt. 9-O, New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Writer and journalist. First Boston Corp./Credit Suisse First Boston Ltd., New York, NY, and London, England, associate investment banker, 1987–89; Henry Ansbacher, Inc./Ansbacher Media, Ltd., New York and London, vice-president, 1989–91; fulltime writer, 1991–.
AWARDS, HONORS: History Book of the Year Award, British Book Awards, 2004, for Stalin; Royal Society of Literature fellow.
UNDER NAME SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED
Kings's Parade (novel), Hamilton (London, England), 1991.
My Affair with Stalin (novel), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1997.
Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin (biography), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2000, published under pseudonym of Sebag Montefiore, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2003, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to British periodicals, including the Spectator, Harpers and Queen, and the Independent.
SIDELIGHTS: Simon Sebag Montefiore, an author of fiction and biographies, has for the most part focused on Russian themes in his works. In his novel My Affair with Stalin, Montefiore tells the story of a schoolboy's fascination with the former Soviet dictator. Writing in the Spectator, Petronella Wyatt noted that the author "has written not just an uncommon tale of schoolboy hubris, but a tragicomic work of high imagination."
Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin is Montefiore's biography of the Russian prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin, who helped Empress Catherine seize the Russian throne and subsequently became her lover. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Harlow Robinson noted that the author "has turned up many relevant items never before published." Spectator contributor Philip Mansel called the book a "stupendous, engaging tour de force, the first serious biography of Potemkin in any language since 1891."
In Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, the author provides another biography of the cruel leader based on extensive research into archives, unpublished memoirs, and interviews with the wives and children of people who served under the dictator. "What more can be said about a tyrant who has already been the subject of countless biographies?," wrote Andrew Nagorski in Newsweek International. "As Montefiore proves, the answer is 'a lot.'" National Review contributor David Pryce-Jones noted that the author "has set himself the task of unraveling the enigma of Stalin's character." Pryce-Jones went on to write: "This stimulating and imaginative book illuminates how this small pockmarked man … was able to command the slavish obedience of his courtiers and so impose the nightmare of Communism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Economist, December 16, 2000, Dominic Lieven, review of Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin, p. 2.
National Review, May 3, 2004, David Pryce-Jones, review of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 49.
Newsweek International, May 3, 2004, Andrew Nagorski, review of Stalin, p. 65.
New York Times Book Review, December 2, 2001, Harlow Robinson, review of Prince of Princes, p. 32.
Spectator, September 13, 1997, Petronella Wyatt, review of My Affair with Stalin, p. 46; October 21, 2000, Philip Mansel, review of Prince of Princes, p. 54.
Times Literary Supplement, October 20, 2000, Peter Nasmyth, review of Prince of Princes, p. 28.
Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2002, Paul Klebnikov, review of Prince of Princes, p. A18.
Washington Post, November 4, 2001, review of Prince of Princes, p. T05.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 2004, Martin Walker, review of Stalin, p. 118.
WWD, November 6, 2001, Kevin West, "Simon Says," p. 4.
Simon Sebag Montefiore Home Page, http://www.simonsebagmontefiore.com (January 5, 2005).