STALIN'S WARS: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953/FROM ROOSEVELT TO TRUMAN: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War/MY DEAR MR. STALIN: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin

By Baumann, Robert F. | Military Review, May/June 2008 | Go to article overview

STALIN'S WARS: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953/FROM ROOSEVELT TO TRUMAN: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War/MY DEAR MR. STALIN: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin


Baumann, Robert F., Military Review


STALIN'S WARS: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Geoffrey Roberts, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006, 468 pages.

FROM ROOSEVELT TO TRUMAN: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War, Wilson D. Miscamble, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, 393 pages, $27.99.

MY DEAR MR. STALIN: The Complete Correspondence Of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin, Susan Butler, ed., foreword by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2005, 361 pages $25.00.

Few 20th-century figures have inspired more scholarly commentary than Joseph Stalin, particularly concerning his wartime and postwar relationships with Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Over a decade ago, the broadening of access to Russian archives (if only temporary) crowned the end of the academic version of the Cold War and generated a series of new offerings on Stalin and his legacy. Still, Stalin remains a more challenging subject than most wartime leaders by virtue of the secretive nature of the Soviet system, the enormity of events in which he participated, and his own distinctly cryptic behavior. At me same time, Stalin's American counterparts have been the objects of scholarly dispute, in part because of the extraordinary richness of the public record. Indeed, a study of the policies and personalities of FDR and Truman, and above all their readings of Stalin's intentions, continue to define our understanding of the Cold War's origins.

Geoffrey Roberts's latest work, Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, is a well written and carefully researched volume that focuses on Stalin as wartime leader and strategist. Roberts pointedly strives to offer an appraisal independent of his subject's record of crimes against humanity; in fact, he advises the reader that the latter are not his subject. Some compartmentalization of topics is reasonable in this instance. But we cannot evaluate Stalin as a strategic decision-maker and diplomat without considering the intellectual processes and predispositions that marked the systematic brutality of his rule. The man who won the war, after all, was also the same man who grievously weakened his country in the preceding years through catastrophic purges, unproven economic schemes, and establishment of an atmosphere of paranoia.

Roberts, however, flatly asserts that ideology, more than personality, offers the key to reading Stalin's intentions. Projecting from this conclusion, he draws extensively from Stalin's own published remarks as well as records of meetings and conversations. This approach, though necessary and indisputably valuable, leans heavily on its implicit assumption that Stalin's words speak louder loudly than his actions.

Stalin seldom lost sight of political context or his overarching aims. He was far more likely to say what needed to be said to facilitate a particular objective than to bare his soul. Thus it seems that the author's attribution of great credence to Stalin's conversations with men such as Georgi Dimitrov, leader of me Comintern, is fraught with risk. Roberts describes Dimitrov's diary as "the most important source on Stalin's private thinking during the war years"; however, the extent to which Stalin confided in Dimitrov -or anyone else for that matter-is subject to doubt. In all probability, Stalin left posterity to assemble a puzzle from among a pile of intertwined facts and lies.

Like many larger-man-life leaders and politicians, Stalin saw himself as a man playing a role on the stage of history. If he enjoyed adulation, he did not, as Roberts aptly points out, take it too much to heart. Indeed, Stalin was perhaps the least likely of men to accept expressions of devotion at face value. Almost incapable of sincerity himself, he hardly expected it from others. Thus, even his most loyal sycophants lived in fear for their lives.

Roberts's appraisal of Stalin as a leader and strategist is a favorable one with which even many of Stalin's severest critics would probably concur.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

STALIN'S WARS: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953/FROM ROOSEVELT TO TRUMAN: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War/MY DEAR MR. STALIN: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.