This book review is the best portrayal I've found online regarding the personality, revolutionary role, and rule of Stalin.
This year’s one-hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution is partly overshadowed by the moustachioed and gimlet-eyed figure of Josef Stalin. As October draws closer we can expect a drearily predictable litany of articles and documentaries from right-wing historians (and some misguided left-wing ones) proclaiming the event as one of the great calamities of the twentieth century and the foundation of Russia’s ineluctable descent into a dark dictatorship presided over by the baleful cobbler's son from Georgia. The alleged thread of mass coercion connecting the careers of Lenin and Stalin will be one of the tropes of the right in its case against radical change of any form. Any similar project to cast off the shackles of capitalist inequality and oppression, it will be argued, can only lead inexorably to variations of the Gulag and the KGB.