THE UNEASY ALLIANCE: America, Britain and Russia, 1941-1943 by Robert Beitzell

THE UNEASY ALLIANCE: America, Britain and Russia, 1941-1943

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Stalin's insistence on establishing a second front against Hitler, Roosevelt's emerging ""grand design"" for postwar power relations, and the erosion of Britain's position by ""Washington's Wilsonianism and the advance of the Red Army,"" are well documented but inadequately developed themes in this history of the great wartime conferences among the Big Three. After Pearl Harbor, Churchill concentrated on drawing the U.S. fully into the war against Germany rather than expending its major force in the Pacific, while Stalin, apparently fearing Allied dismemberment of the Soviet Union, began demanding recognition of the Baltic States as Soviet territory. These efforts converged at Teheran in 1943, which Beitzell pinpoints as ""the most important conference"" of the war. There Stalin's objectives were realized and Churchill was defeated in his attempt to thwart the second front in favor of a ""soft underbelly"" thrust through Italy and the Balkans, while Roosevelt prevailed in both hemispheres as he pushed China into the Big Four. Beitzell handles this material smoothly and concisely, but often fails to draw conclusions at hand. Why did the U.S. and Britain work closely on keeping the Red Army out of Italy but then fall out over British desires to move further into the Aegean and establish bases in the Bosporus and the Danube? Why did the U.S. accept Tito instead of King Peter and Mikhailovic in Yugoslavia as the British preferred? Why did the U.S. push its new ""Wilsonianism"" into such dear conflicts with the British imperial system? Finally, why was Churchill so set against the second front? Responding to the last problem, Beitzell tends to accept Churchill's military arguments at face value, ignoring the prime minister's often dubious strategic capacities. But where Beitzell fails to press questions and conclusions, his excellent rendering of this diplomatic tumult will enable readers to form their own opinions -- the clues are all there.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1972
Publisher: Knopf