In This Review

Blood and Ruins: The Last Imperial War, 1931-1945
Blood and Ruins: The Last Imperial War, 1931-1945
By Richard Overy
Penguin Random House LLC, 2022, pp.

Does anyone have a right to be surprised? A gangster regime in the Kremlin has declared that its security is threatened by a much smaller neighbor—which, the regime claims, is not a truly sovereign country but just a plaything of far more powerful Western states. To make itself more secure, the Kremlin insists, it needs to bite off some of its neighbor’s territory. Negotiations between the two sides break down; Moscow invades.

The year was 1939. The regime in the Kremlin was led by Joseph Stalin, and the neighboring country was Finland. Stalin had offered to swap territory with

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  • STEPHEN KOTKIN is John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of the forthcoming book Stalin: Totalitarian Superpower, 1941–1990s, the last in his three-volume biography.
  • More By Stephen Kotkin