Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War
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A chilling, riveting account based on newly released Russian documentation that reveals Joseph Stalin’s true motives—and the extent of his enduring commitment to expanding the Soviet empire—during the years in which he seemingly collaborated with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the capitalist West.
At the Big Three conferences of World War II, Stalin persuasively played the role of a great world leader. Even astute observers like George F. Kennan concluded that the United States and Great Britain should view Stalin as a modern-day tsarist-like figure whose primary concerns lay in international strategy and power politics, not in ideology. Now Robert Gellately uses recently uncovered documents to make clear that, in fact, the dictator was an unwavering revolutionary merely biding his time, determined as ever to establish Communist regimes across Europe and beyond, and that his actions during these years (and the poorly calculated Western responses) set in motion what would eventually become the Cold War. Gellately takes us behind the scenes. We see the dictator disguising his political ambitions and prioritizing the future of Communism, even as he pursued the war against Hitler. Along the way, the ascetic dictator’s Machiavellian moves and bouts of irrationality kept the Western leaders on their toes, in a world that became more dangerous and divided year by year.
Exciting, deeply engaging, and shrewdly perceptive, Stalin’s Curse is an unprecedented revelation of the sinister machinations of the Soviet dictator.
which won 60.9 percent of the vote.66 Nevertheless, even with intimidation and manipulation of the results, the Communists were unable to manufacture majority support. It would take a few more twists of the screws to lock the country down and all but compel it to fall in behind the one-party dictatorship. Stalin and his comrades also had ideas about the future of Communism in the Balkans along the Mediterranean coast. However, the geography is rugged there, as are the people, and they soon
sumptuous family vacations in Livadia, near Yalta on the Black Sea. The Soviets flew them in and welcomed them with a buffet of cold appetizers, fruit, and soft drinks. An honor guard escorted them to roomy and posh accommodations. This locale was where the Big Three had once met. Nothing was spared, especially when it came to provisions; “perishable produce, delicacies and drinks” were brought in daily by plane from distant Moscow.4 Communist leaders rationalized their privileges to themselves
Weltkriege, 2nd ed. (Göttingen, 1979), 97. 2. Speech, Oct. 1, 1938, in N. N. Maslov, “I. V. Stalin o ‘Kratkom kurse istorii VKP (b),’ ” Istoricheskii arkhiv, no. 5 (1995), 13. 3. Speech, Mar. 10, 1939, in Stalin, Sochineniia, vol. 14, 296–97. 4. Izvestia, June 1, 1939. 5. Pravda, June 29, 1939, in SDFP, 3:352–54. 6. Derek Watson, Molotov: A Biography (New York, 2005), 166–69. 7. Received in Moscow Aug. 15, see SDFP, 3:356–57; DGFP, Series D, 5:62–64. 8. RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 296, doc.
N.C., 1988), 31. 45. Krisztián Ungváry, The Siege of Budapest: 100 Days in World War II (New Haven, Conn., 2005), 40–43. 46. Ernő Gerő’s notes, reprinted in William O. McCagg, Jr., Stalin Embattled, 1943–1948 (Detroit, 1978), 314–16. The author ignores the last sentence, as pointed out in László Borhi, Hungary in the Cold War, 1945–1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union (New York, 2004), 35. 47. Volokitina et al., Sovetskii faktor, 1:109–13; Gati, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc,
(Washington, D.C., 2007), 11; Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford, Calif., 1992), 158. 17. Caffery to Secretary of State, May 12, 1947, in FRUS, 1947, British Commonwealth; Europe, 3:709–13. 18. Department of State, press release, June 4, 1947, ibid., 3:237–39. 19. Hitchcock, France Restored, 72–73; Rioux, Fourth Republic, 126–27. 20. Harry Bayard Price, The Marshall Plan and Its Meaning (Ithaca, N.Y., 1955),