Stalin's Holy War: Religion, Nationalism, and Alliance Politics, 1941-1945

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Stalin's Holy War: Religion, Nationalism, and Alliance Politics, 1941-1945. By Steven Merritt Miner. (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press. 2003. Pp. 407. $55.00.)

Steven Merritt Miner, professor of history in Ohio University, has written a penetrating book on the complex and profound role of religion, especially Russian Orthodoxy, in the policies of Stalin's government during World War II. Using a variety of archival sources, including the newly opened Russian archives and recently published documents from those archives, Miner examines religion's role in nationalism, Soviet politics, diplomacy, state security, Nazi-Soviet relations, and Western-Soviet ties. he shows how Stalin became aware of the usefulness of religion, how he used religion to wage a "holy war" to reassimilate the peoples in the Nazi-occupied Soviet west and to strengthen his hand against Western groups and institutions (Vatican, Polish government-in-exile, Baltic peoples, and Christian believers, especially Latin and Uniate Catholics), which opposed his annexations of the western borderlands and his expansion into Eastern Europe, and how he sold the "holy war" to British and American public opinion. In virtually every chapter Miner offers up new information and sharp and cogent analysis. he shows the constant interaction bet-ween domestic and foreign policy, and the crucial importance of religion ,from its impact on nationalism to its effect on Western public opinion, in understanding Soviet society. he also shows how Western media and reporters supported Soviet policies, and how the Soviets infiltrated, manipulated, controlled, or influenced such stalwart institutions as the British Broadcasting Corporation and the hierarchy of the Anglican Church. …