ROOSEVELT AND STALIN by Susan Butler

ROOSEVELT AND STALIN

Portrait of a Partnership
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive study of the wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union, as directed by Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

When America entered World War II, the Soviets were fighting for national survival. Stalin desperately needed aid from capitalist America both during and after the war and went to great lengths to please Roosevelt in order to get it. Roosevelt wanted the war to end with the formation of a peacekeeping organization more effective than the League of Nations had been, and he needed both American and Russian participation to achieve this goal. He therefore aimed to draw the previously isolated Soviets into the club of responsible power diplomacy while also acknowledging Russia as an indispensable military ally. Journalist Butler (East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart, 1997, etc.) describes in meticulous detail the proceedings at the Tehran and Yalta conferences, the only times that Roosevelt and Stalin met in person, and shows how the American president, "the glue holding together the alliance," frequently mediated between Stalin and Churchill to keep the allies pulling together. The most striking aspect of the narrative is the portrayal of the big three. Roosevelt appears always as farsighted and sure-footed. Butler clearly loathes Churchill, whom she regards as a racist imperialist "more concerned over preserving Britain's position in Europe than in preserving peace.” Her attempt to claim a moral equivalence between Stalin's rule and British colonial administration is particularly errant. Stalin steps straight out of Soviet propaganda from the 1930s: a wise, perceptive, benign old man. The author asserts that his power rested on charm, not fear; he rehabilitated religion in Russia; he wanted a strong, independent and democratic Poland; he had no intention of imposing communism on European countries by force, and so on. All of this is difficult to credit.

A thorough account of the alliance between two very different leaders, although written with an extreme pro-Soviet tilt.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0307594853
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2014




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