In This Review

Stalin's Wars: From Wold War to Cold War
Stalin's Wars: From Wold War to Cold War
By Geoffrey Roberts
Yale University Press, 2007, 496 pp

Stalin's brutality -- as great as that of any Russian autocrat (no mean comparison set) -- is well known. But was there also greatness in the man? Roberts answers yes, at least in terms of his leadership during World War II. Without Stalin, he argues, the Soviet Union might well not have prevailed. Using new archival material, Roberts carves a figure who grew with the war, got the most from his people and his generals, and held the country together as a lesser force could not have. Moreover, he says, Stalin wanted to preserve cooperation and peace with his wartime allies after 1945, admittedly on his terms. Had Winston Churchill and others understood this, the Cold War might have been averted. Roberts makes a serious historical argument. This is not Cold War revisionist history that whitewashes the pathologies and extreme cruelty of Stalin's leadership. On the contrary. Still, in the end, it glosses over the question of whether, if largely on Stalin's terms, peace -- that is, no Cold War -- really had much chance.