Stalin’s Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War

Robert Gellately, Author
Robert Gellately. Knopf, $32.50 (464p) ISBN 978-0-307-26915-7
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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. Utilizing recently released Russian documents, Gellately demolishes whatever traces remain of the revisionism that holds the U.S. primarily responsible for the Cold War. On the contrary, Gellately argues that Stalin took consistent advantage of his “overly accommodating” wartime allies in order to export Communist ideals and extend Soviet power after WWII, when it was far too late to keep Stalin from consolidating his hold on Eastern Europe and revitalizing his domestic dictatorship with “all its repressive trappings.” His desire to eliminate “the faintest trace of deviance” led to suppressing ethnic groups at home, establishing repressive satellite regimes in Eastern Europe, and bringing the West’s Communist parties into line with a rigid ideology. The overreach prompted Western Europe and America to rally against Stalin’s influence, but it was not until his death that the “iron will and revolutionary militancy” driving the system finally subsided. Even then, it took another four decades before Stalin’s eroding empire finally collapsed. Interweaving scholarship and the testimonies of those who suffered under Stalin’s rule, Gellately’s history is political and personal. 8 pages of photos, 3 maps. (Mar. 5)
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