We could learn a lot about the times we live in (while dealing with Russia and Putin) if we took the time to read about Stalin. Stalin was playing the long game in the 1930s and balancing his schemes on what he was seeing in Nazi Germany, France, and Britain. His goal was never to get into a war to just win it, but to gain as much political advantage as he could while forcing the other powers to battle each other. We know about the antisemitism that plagued Germany at this time, however we gloss over how much Stalin purged his own ranks throughout the 30s. Letting Hitler run amok in Europe was, as Sean McMeekin details, allowed by Stalin (or at least Stalin didn’t care to get involved, see the non-aggression pact signed between Hitler and him) to stir up as much turmoil as possible. In the end, it worked. World War II causalities were huge on the Russian population, but Stalin would be fine with that (in fact, he was good at killing his own people in the large amounts as well). It helped Stalin secured enough political capital, slave labor and new territories to grow the Soviet Union into a world power.— Jason Kennedy
A prize-winning historian reveals how Stalin--not Hitler--was the animating force of World War II in this major new history.
We remember World War II as a struggle between good and evil, with Hitler propelling events and the Allied powers saving the day. But Hitler's armies did not fight in multiple theaters, his empire did not span the Eurasian continent, and he did not inherit the spoils of war. That role belonged to Joseph Stalin. Hitler's genocidal ambition may have unleashed Armageddon, but as celebrated historian Sean McMeekin shows, the conflicts that emerged were the result of Stalin's maneuverings, orchestrated to unleash a war between capitalist powers in Europe and between Japan and the Anglo-American forces in the Pacific. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain's self-defeating strategy of supporting Stalin and his armies at all costs allowed the Soviets to conquer most of Eurasia, from Berlin to Beijing, for Communism.
A groundbreaking reassessment, Stalin's War is essential reading for anyone looking to understand the roots of the current world order.