Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman—From World War to Cold War

Michael Dobbs. Knopf, $28.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-307-27165-5
According to popular mythology, from February to August 1945 allied armies rolled to victory in WWII, but then ineffectual Western leaders caved in to Stalin, resulting in the cold war. Veteran journalist Dobbs (One Minute to Midnight) takes a more nuanced view and asserts that neither Russian nor Western leaders understood one another’s inner workings. In mapping a course for Europe, both Roosevelt, at Yalta in February 1945, and Truman, at Potsdam in July of that year, failed to sway Stalin from his desire to impose a Soviet sphere of influence on Eastern Europe. Critics labeled this a betrayal of democratic ideals, but the Red Army was on the spot, and no one supported a war to eject them. Skeptical of the great man theory of history, Dobbs thinks that the cold war was probably inevitable, and merely delayed by the presence of a mutual enemy. He says also that Stalin was not, like Hitler, purely autocratic, and operated within the Soviet Union’s own systemic constraints. His goal was to prepare for a new war with the West within the next 20 years, but Eastern Europe proved a persistent drain and the U.S.S.R.’s clunky command economy could not hope to satisfy its citizens. Dobbs offers an astute narrative of the six months that changed the world. 8 maps. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012
Release date: 10/16/2012
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-307-45667-0
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4481-3547-9
Compact Disc - 13 pages - 978-0-449-01377-9
Open Ebook - 405 pages - 978-0-307-96089-4
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