Stalin and His Hangmen - Donald Rayfield
It is easy to see why this book in used in poli sci courses about highly repressive political regimes. This book will give an insight in the reality of repression when the gangsters in a society occupy the highest positions of power. The concise biographies of Stalin himself and his scorpion-like henchmen are especially interesting. The only drawback is that we don't get a sense of the psychology of coercive persuasion: who were the jailers, the torturers, the executioners and what buttons did their superiors have to push to turn ordinary slobs and brutes into evil war criminals. It's not enough to imply that they did evil deeds out of fear of the consequences of non-compliance.