To understand how North Korea has survived as the world's last Stalinist regime, despite international isolation and at enormous human cost to its people, one must look at how its political system was created. The country's foundations were laid in the late 1940s and the 1950s as a result of interaction between the Soviet Stalinist model, imposed from outside, and local traditions. Andrei Lankov traces the formation of the North Korean state and the early years of Kim Il Sung's rule, when the future "Great Leader" and his entourage were consolidating their power base. Surveying the situation in North Korea after 1945, Lankov explores the internal composition of the ruling elite, the role of the Soviets, and the uneasy relations between various politcal groups. He also focuses on how in 1956 Kim Il Sung defeated the only known attempt to oust him and thereby established personal rule beyond either Soviet or Chinese control. The book is based on previously secret Soviet documents from Russian archives, as well as interviews with Russian and Korean participants.