Between the Revolution and the West: A Political Biography of Maxim M. Litvinov

Hugh D. Phillips, Author Westview Press $37 (244p) ISBN 978-0-8133-1038-1
The life of Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet foreign minister who futilely attempted to join forces with the West against Hitler, is full of irony and drama. Born Meer Vallakh in 1876, the son of a Jewish banker, he became a gunrunner and a chief underground operative for Lenin. Litvinov's methodical, puritanical personality was diametrically opposed to that of his impulsive, free-spirited wife, Ivy Low, whom he met during his 10-year exile in England. Perhaps more than anyone else, the businesslike diplomat gave a veneer of respectability to Stalin's murderous regime; yet Litvinov bluntly condemned Stalin's policies during and after the war with Germany. He survived the purges to die a natural death in 1951, his belief in revolution severely undermined. In this engrossing biography, the Soviet diplomat emerges as a prophetic voice against Hitler, a would-be dissident who nearly defected to the U.S. in 1943, and a farsighted politician seeking collective security arrangements with the West. Phillips teaches history at Western Kentucky University. Photos. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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