Synopses & Reviews
The terror and purges of Stalinandrsquo;s Russia in the 1930s discouraged Soviet officials from leaving documentary records let alone keeping personal diaries. A remarkable exception is the unique diary assiduously kept by Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943. This selection from Maiskyand#39;s diary, never before published in English, grippingly documentsand#160;Britainandrsquo;s drift to war during the 1930s, appeasement in the Munich era, negotiations leading to the signature of the Ribbentropandndash;Molotov Pact, Churchillandrsquo;s rise to power, the German invasion of Russia, and the intense debate over the opening of the second front.
Maisky was distinguished by his great sociability and access to the key players in British public life. Among his range of regular contacts were politicians (including Churchill, Chamberlain, Eden, and Halifax), press barons (Beaverbrook), ambassadors (Joseph Kennedy), intellectuals (Keynes, Sidney and Beatrice Webb), writers (George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells), and indeed royalty. His diary further reveals the role personal rivalries within the Kremlin played in the formulation of Soviet policy at the time. Scrupulously edited and checked against a vast range of Russian and Western archival evidence, this extraordinary narrative diary offers a fascinating revision of the events surrounding the Second World War.
This important book draws on vital new archival material to unravel the mystery of Hitler's invasion of Russia in 1941 and Stalin's enigmatic behavior on the eve of the attack. Gabriel Gorodetsky challenges the currently popular view that Stalin was about to invade Germany when Hitler made a preemptive strike. He argues instead that Stalin was actually negotiating for European peace, asserting that Stalin followed an unscrupulous Realpolitik that served well-defined geopolitical interests by seeking to redress the European balance of power.
Gorodetsky substantiates his argument through the most thorough scrutiny ever of Soviet archives for the period, including the files of the Russian foreign ministry, the general staff, the security forces, and the entire range of military intelligence available to Stalin at the time. According to Gorodetsky, Stalin was eagerly anticipating a peace conference where various accords imposed on Russia would be revised. But the delusion of being able to dictate a new European order blinded him to the lurking German danger, and his erroneous diagnosis of the political scene--colored by his perennial suspicion of Great Britain--led him to misconstrue the evidence of his own and Britain's intelligence services. Gorodetsky highlights the sequence of military blunders that resulted from Stalin's determination to appease Germany--blunders that provide the key to understanding the calamity that befell Russia on 22 June 1941.
Highlights of the extraordinary wartime diaries of Ivan Maisky, Soviet ambassador to London
About the Author
Gabriel Gorodetsky is a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and emeritus professor of history at Tel Aviv University.