In this revelatory chronicle of World War II, Laurence Rees, winner of the 2006 British Book Award for History, documents the dramatic and secret deals that helped make the war possible and prompted some of the most crucial decisions made during the conflict.
Drawing on material available only since opening of archives in Eastern Europe and Russia, Rees reexamines the key choices made by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt during the war. And as the truth about Stalin’s earlier friendly relationship with the Nazis is laid bare, a devastating and surprising picture of the Soviet leader emerges.
The emotional core of the book is the amazing new testimony obtained from nearly a hundred separate witnesses from the period—former Soviet secret policemen, Allied seamen who braved Arctic convoys and Red Army veterans who engaged Germans in hand-to-hand fighting on the Eastern Front. Their dramatic personal experiences make clear in a compelling and fresh way the reasons why the people of Poland, the Baltic states and other European countries simply swapped the rule of one tyrant for another.
Rees’ ability to weave high politics—the meeting of the Allied leaders at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam—with the dramatic personal experiences of those on the ground who bore the consequences of their decisions is eye opening. World War II Behind Closed Doors will change the way we think about the Second World War.
Accompanying a major PBS history series, this enthralling narrative is a mix of high politics—including the inside story of the Allies’ meetings at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam—and the dramatic personal experiences of those on the ground who bore the consequences of their decisions.
“Rees commendably keeps his reader-viewers in touch with a history inexorably receding from living memory.” —Booklist
“There are many surprises here, and much good detail….The relationship between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill makes an ugly story, and Rees tells it extraordinarily well.” —Max Hastings
“…a thoughtful and thought-provoking introduction to many of the shadier deals of the Second World War…The real virtue of this book lies in its ability to blend the experience of ordinary people into the narrative of public events…memorable in the extreme” —Richard Overy, Literary Review
“Readers of this book… are in for a shock. At least the author, Laurence Rees, the award laden producer of documentaries on Auschwitz and the Nazis, intends us to be….This book illuminates many shady corners of Britain’s and America’s dealings with Stalin and each other. The famous trust between Churchill and Roosevelt is shown to be far from perfect.” —Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
Visit laurencerees.com to watch a video lecture, to read a complete biography, and to view a complete schedule of events.
About the author
Laurence Rees is the Creative Director of History Programs for the BBC, a documentary filmmaker, and the author of five books on war and historical atrocities. He is the creator of the acclaimed television series and books The Nazis: A Warning from History, War of the Century, Horror in the East and Auschwitz: The Nazi and the ‘Final Solution.’ which was an international bestseller and winner of the British Book Award for History Book of the Year. His body of work has won him many awards including a BAFTA and a Grierson Award. Educated at Oxford University, he lives in England.