by Martin Folly, Geoffrey Roberts, and Oleg Rzheshevsky
Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xx, 228+.
Illus., maps, personae, appends, notes, biblio., index. $42.95. ISBN: 1781590494
The Critical Relationship at the Heart of the "Grand Alliance"
The authors, two Britons and a Russian, all specialists in the history of W.W. II and Soviet-Western relations, have produced an insightful treatment of Churchill’s ultimately successful effort to forge an alliance with the Soviets, and a personal relationship with Stalin, that, with the eventual addition of FDR and the United States, helped defeat the Hitlerian Reich.
Incorporating recently declassified documents from Russian archives, and hitherto untapped materials from Western archives, they offer the reader some surprises. Perhaps most important of these is that despite his well known anti-communism, Churchill began to envision an alliance with the Soviets against the Nazis well before the start of the Second World War.
The authors include a goodly number of documents – transcripts of conversations, letters, cables – that help the reader better understand the nuances of the exchanges among the principal characters. They make a number of interesting observations about Stalin’s negotiating strategy, generally beginning a conference with openness and agreement, but following up with a tougher line.
While the Churchill-Stalin relationship is the subject of this work, the authors touch somewhat upon President Roosevelt’s role as well. The key takeaways are that Churchill was essential to the alliance, a man who, despite being the oldest of the
“Big Three” was remarkably willing to travel, and that the alliance was at best a marriage of convenience; once the Axis was defeated, the alliance collapsed
Churchill and Stalin is a valuable read for anyone interested in the diplomacy of the “Grand Alliance” or in the workings of any alliance.
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