“[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 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.