Battling for Communism in War and Cold War
By Robert Gellately
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307269157, 496pp.)
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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A chilling, riveting account based on newly released Russian documentation that reveals Joseph Stalin’s true motives—and the extent of his enduring commitment to expanding the Soviet empire—during the years in which he seemingly collaborated with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the capitalist West.
At the Big Three conferences of World War II, Stalin persuasively played the role of a great world leader. Even astute observers like George F. Kennan concluded that the United States and Great Britain should view Stalin as a modern-day tsarist-like figure whose primary concerns lay in international strategy and power politics, not in ideology. Now Robert Gellately uses recently uncovered documents to make clear that, in fact, the dictator was an unwavering revolutionary merely biding his time, determined as ever to establish Communist regimes across Europe and beyond, and that his actions during these years (and the poorly calculated Western responses) set in motion what would eventually become the Cold War. Gellately takes us behind the scenes. We see the dictator disguising his political ambitions and prioritizing the future of Communism, even as he pursued the war against Hitler. Along the way, the ascetic dictator’s Machiavellian moves and bouts of irrationality kept the Western leaders on their toes, in a world that became more dangerous and divided year by year.
Exciting, deeply engaging, and shrewdly perceptive, Stalin’s Curse is an unprecedented revelation of the sinister machinations of the Soviet dictator.
Robert Gellately is the Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University and recently was the Bertelsmann Visiting Professor of Twentieth-Century Jewish Politics and History at Oxford University. He is the author of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe; The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933–1945; and Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
“[M]asterly . . . Gellately’s latest work has a good claim to be the best single-volume account of the darkest period in Russian history.”
“[M]asterful and brilliant . . . Gellately has mined the newly available archives in the former Soviet Union. The result is a definitive account that shows readers precisely how Stalin started, and tried to manage, the Cold War in an attempt to reach his never-abandoned goal of spreading communism throughout the world, with an aim to final victory.”
—Ronald Radosh, The Weekly Standard
“[A] refreshingly frank analysis. Not for [Gellately] is the revisionist notion that the US was as much to blame for the cold war as the Soviet Union . . . a powerful work of synthesis.”
—Robert Service, New Statesman
“[M]asterful . . . [T]his book should become a go-to read on how the Cold War developed.”
—Jacob Sherman, Library Journal
“[I]mpeccably researched and cogently argued . . . Gellately’s intimate knowledge of the sources across Eastern European and of Russian archives compels us to accept his conclusions . . . The blame for the barren cul-de-sac down which global history strayed for nearly half a century has never been better diagnosed: It was Stalin’s curse.”
—Andrew Roberts, The Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating study . . . Using rich sources from archives to memoirs, the author convincingly shows that Stalin was a committed follwer of Marxism-Leninism and worked constantly to expand the international revolution under Russia's leadership . . . Highly recommended."
—D. J. Dunn, Choice
“Florida State University’s Gellately (Lenin, Stalin and Hitler) adds to his distinguished body of work on 20th-century totalitarianism with this analysis of Stalin’s conduct in international relations between 1939 and 1953 . . . Interweaving scholarship and the testimonies of those who suffered under Stalin’s rule, Gellately’s history is political and personal.”
“[I]mpressive . . . This is a meticulously researched and well written study that makes extensive use of archival and other primary sources. In addition to the large amount of eye-opening information assembled the strength of the book is bolstered by a bracing critical approach.”
—Paul Hollander, Liberty and Law
“Meticulously documented. One gets the feeling that Gellately is the sort of historian whose sleep would be disturbed by any suspicion that he might have made an error . . . Gellately’s exhaustively researched and elegantly written book is a superb contribution to the scholarship of a time and place that remains a cautionary tale for the free world.
—Rosemary Michaud, Charlestown Post and Courier
“Gellately here indicts Stalin as the primary instigator of the Cold War, marshaling evidence from Communist archives that undermines the revisionist case for Western responsibility for starting the confrontation . . . Gellately’s fine contribution to Cold War studies will engage readers with its inside-the-Kremlin detail.”
—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
“[E]ngaging . . . [Gellately is] an acute observer, so the book should reach a wide audience of interested readers. When confronting controversial questions he invariably demonstrates sound judgment and a willingness to allow for multiple interpretations . . . Gellately may be the first historian studying the Soviet side of the Cold War who has made such broad use of on-line archival sources, plus the rich document collections published on the Soviet Union and the Cold War since the turn of the century.”
—Norman M. Naimark, International Affairs (UK)
“[An] outstanding work . . . A prominent historian of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, Gellately offers a panoramic view of Stalin’s political, diplomatic and psychological manoeuvres that allowed the USSR to achieve superpower status. The author has an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject and provides a compelling narrative of deception, brutality, foolishness and betrayed idealism.”
—Vladimir Tismaneanu, Times Higher Education
“[M]asterful . . . historian Robert Gellately takes us back to square one. Whodunit? Stalin.”
—Katie Engelhart, Mclean’s