World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, Nazis, and the West

World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, Nazis, and the West

by Laurence Rees
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World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, Nazis, and the West by Laurence Rees

In this revelatory chronicle of World War II, Laurence Rees, winner of the 2006 British Book Award for History, documents the dramatic and secret deals that helped make the war possible and prompted some of the most crucial decisions made during the conflict.

Drawing on material available only since opening of archives in Eastern Europe and Russia, Rees reexamines the key choices made by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt during the war. And as the truth about Stalin’s earlier friendly relationship with the Nazis is laid bare, a devastating and surprising picture of the Soviet leader emerges.

The emotional core of the book is the amazing new testimony obtained from nearly a hundred separate witnesses from the period—former Soviet secret policemen, Allied seamen who braved Arctic convoys and Red Army veterans who engaged Germans in hand-to-hand fighting on the Eastern Front. Their dramatic personal experiences make clear in a compelling and fresh way the reasons why the people of Poland, the Baltic states and other European countries simply swapped the rule of one tyrant for another.

Rees’ ability to weave high politics—the meeting of the Allied leaders at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam—with the dramatic personal experiences of those on the ground who bore the consequences of their decisions is eye opening. World War II Behind Closed Doors will change the way we think about the Second World War.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307377302
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.48(w) x 9.62(h) x 1.38(d)

About the Author

Laurence Rees is the writer and producer of the BBC/PBS television series World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West. His previous work includes the acclaimed television series and books The Nazis: A Warning from History, War of the Century, Horror in the East, and Auschwitz: The Nazis and the "Final Solution," for which he received the British Book Award for History Book of the Year. His other awards include the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award and the Grierson Award. He lives in England.

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World War II Behind Closed Doors 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
RFertel More than 1 year ago
I found that the grab grabed and held my attention. The book reveals alot about the negotiating syles between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, and broke new ground for me about who gave up what, when. While the author is critical about what was negotiated away to Stalin and the Soviets, he rarely mentions that Roosevelt and Churchills options were somewhat limited. The Russians were the ones that physically overran eastern Europe (And possession is 9/10th of the law), and the population of Britain and the United States had no stomach for extending WW2 to fighting the Soviet Union. This left Stalin in a very strong bargaining position. Never the less, I felt the author did a very good job of linking the decisions that the allied leaders made to the impact it had on various population groups. Overall, this is a very good read on how decisions were made, and their impact. Even if one were to disagree on some of the authors points, I felt there is much to learn from this book.
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Willp More than 1 year ago
This book was written to accompany the television series World War Two: Behind closed doors, first broadcast on BBC2 in 2008. Television producer Laurence Rees unfortunately has an unscholarly approach. For example, he cites one Russian's memory of what he was taught at school about the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, but he does not check this by investigating what Russian schoolchildren were actually taught. Throughout this book, he prefers unreferenced, undated anecdotes to the hard work of checking facts. He cannot see that the Chamberlain government's refusal to agree a Grand Alliance with the Soviet Union, not the Non-Aggression Pact, doomed Poland. Only such an alliance could have kept the peace. Rees notes that the US government promised 'a second front in 1942'. He also observes that on D-Day the US and British forces faced 30 German divisions in Normandy. The Soviet Union launched its Operation Bagration, to assist the D-Day landings, against no fewer than 165 German divisions. Rees admits, "It had been Stalin's drive to industrialization via the five-year plans in the 1930s that had prepared the way for this massive expansion in [armaments] production." He acknowledges that the Warsaw Uprising was 'a terrible mistake'. He cites Anthony Eden, a hugely experienced negotiator, "If I had to pick a team for going into a conference room, Stalin would be my first choice." Rees tells us that in 1945 Churchill ordered army planners to look into attacking the Soviet Union. Fortunately, Chief of the Imperial General Staff Alan Brooke concluded that success was 'quite impossible'. But overall, Rees' approach is conventional and superficial. He skips lightly over the Soviet Union's vast achievements in defeating the greatest invasion force in history, instead dwelling obsessively on individuals' unverified stories. His book becomes a hymn of hate against the Soviet Union and Stalin in particular. As a guide to the politics of the Second World War, it is far better to read Henri Michel, Alistair Parker or Geoffrey Roberts.