Grand Delusion


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Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia

Gabriel Gorodetsky

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This important book draws on vital new archival material to unravel the mystery of Hitler’s invasion of Russia in 1941 and Stalin’s enigmatic behavior on the eve of the attack. Gabriel Gorodetsky challenges the currently popular view that Stalin was about to invade Germany when Hitler made a preemptive strike. He argues instead that Stalin was actually negotiating for European peace, asserting that Stalin followed an unscrupulous Realpolitik that served well-defined geopolitical interests by seeking to redress the European balance of power.

Gorodetsky substantiates his argument through the most thorough scrutiny ever of Soviet archives for the period, including the files of the Russian foreign ministry, the general staff, the security forces, and the entire range of military intelligence available to Stalin at the time. According to Gorodetsky, Stalin was eagerly anticipating a peace conference where various accords imposed on Russia would be revised. But the delusion of being able to dictate a new European order blinded him to the lurking German danger, and his erroneous diagnosis of the political scene—colored by his perennial suspicion of Great Britain—led him to misconstrue the evidence of his own and Britain’s intelligence services. Gorodetsky highlights the sequence of military blunders that resulted from Stalin’s determination to appease Germany—blunders that provide the key to understanding the calamity that befell Russia on 22 June 1941.

Gabriel Gorodetsky holds the Samuel Rubin Chair of Russian and East European History at Tel Aviv University.

“An excellent new history that makes full use of newly unearthed files and the uncensored documents of key participants.”—Victorino Matus, American Spectator

“Gorodetsky has written a masterful account of Stalin’s foreign policy in the year leading up to the German invasion of Soviet Russia in June 1941. He uses an array of new archives and material to show that Stalin was neither an ideological zealot, planning to attack Hitler in July 1941, nor a fool, totally oblivious to the mounting danger of the Nazi invasion.”—Choice

"[A] fascinating and important book."—Anthony Beevor, Daily Telegraph

“Gorodetsky’s work will stand as the ultimate diplomatic and strategic history of the British, soviet and German machinations during 1938–41.”—Lester W. Grau, European Security

"This is a triumph of meticulous research, dense, detailed and definitive. It does not have the readability of Antony Beevor’s prize-winning Stalingrad, but many of those who enjoyed that will rightly be drawn to this extraordinary account."—Christopher Beauman, Hampstead & Highgate Express (Ham & High)

“Gorodetsky’s narrative is indeed most convincing. . . . His extensive source base . . . provides us with the clearest picture to date of the Soviet-decision making processes in the period 1939–41. . . . Grand Delusion is a work of immense importance, and will be valued for years to come.”—Kenneth Slepyan, H-Net Reviews

“Gorodetsky has thoroughly trawled the European archives and relevant private papers for this fine study, giving detail, definition, and substance as well as a convincing interpretation to a subject hitherto much shrouded in speculation and guesswork.”—D. W. Spring, International History Review

"The author of this painstakingly researched book has . . . gained new evidence from hitherto inaccessible Soviet sources, to cast a new light on many unanswered questions. The result is a fascinating story of bluff and counterbluff, mistrust, and consistent military blunders as four million men locked horns. The book is a serious historical interpretation of one of the most important events in military history."—Patrick Ryall, Irish Independent

“The most comprehensive, most thoroughly researched and most cogently argued account of Soviet policy yet to appear. Not only is it a good history of its main subject, the German invasion; it also places this subject into a broader context, with detailed coverage of topics such as British and Japanese policy, controversies over the Balkans, and the flight of Rudolf Hess to Britain. . . . [This book] will remain the standard account of this fascinating period for a long time to come.”—Alexander Dallin, Journal of Cold War Studies

“Clearly written and elegantly argued, Grand Delusion is indispensable reading for the specialist or general reader attempting to make sense of the events leading up to the greatest and deadliest land war in history.”—David Costello, Journal of Military History

"An intense . . . study of the strategic and diplomatic reasons for the German invasion of Russia in WWII and of why Stalin wasn’t better prepared to defend the country. . . . Well-argued."—Kirkus Reviews

"The latest and most probing effort to understand Stalin’s near-fatal miscalculation is this one by Gabriel Gorodetsky . . . an internationally recognized scholar in the field of Soviet foreign policy. In 14 densely packed chapters based on archival materials, he provides a blow-by-blow chronicle and analysis of the nervous jockeying between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany from the time of their infamous Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939 to the day of the invasion. It was Stalin’s obstinate refusal to acknowledge a mass of intelligence even greater than has been supposed up to now, the author concludes, that set the Soviets up for a near-death experience."—Robert V. Daniels, New Leader

"An outstanding book on the subject, drawing on, among other things, hitherto neglected Blakan archives."—Niall Ferguson, New York Times Book Review

“By far the most authoritative account of the processes whereby Iosif Stalin and company were caught by surprise in the Barbarossa campaign. . . . The virtues of the book are . . . enormous.”—Hugh Ragsdale, Slavic Review

"In Grand Delusion, Gabriel Gorodetsky has performed an invaluable service to scholarship by destroying once and for all Suvarov’s theory. . . . Not only that, but he has taken our understanding of the Russian misreading of German policy beyond Churchill’s—by intrepid research in an impressive range of hitherto inaccessible or unused Russian and Balkan sources. This really is a classic of the new, post-Cold War history. It renders a whole shelf-full of books obsolete. . . . How the late A.J.P. Taylor would have adored this book."—Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph

"A landmark in establishing a convincing historical interpretation."—Peter Clarke, Sunday Times

“One of the most interesting and innovative studies of Soviet foreign policy for some years.”--Geoffery Roberts, Times Higher Education Supplement

“The great paradox is how a man so congenitally paranoid at home could have fooled himself when a real threat appeared abroad. Gabriel Gorodetsky goes further than anyone else in trying to resolve that paradox, and in the course of doing so, finally puts to rest the many myths and speculations that have flourished under its shadow.”—Richard Overy, Times Literary Supplement

“In this fascinating account of the events leading up to the June 22, 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union by Hitler’s forces, Gorodetsky draws on established sources and newly available material to provide his interpretation of the machinations and thinking that preceded the fateful decision to attack. While it is obviously a work of historical research based on solid facts, the writing is thoroughly engrossing and agreeable to the point that the reader has the feeling of reading a novel rather than what could be a history textbook. . . . An important contribution.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

“This literary sensation is an enthralling narrative and an outstanding historical investigation, based on a comprehensive examination of western archives and recently declassified documents scattered in Russian archives, including Boris Yeltsin’s elusive presidential archive.”—Economist
ISBN: 9780300084597
Publication Date: March 11, 2001
424 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.
The Complete Maisky Diaries

Volumes 1-3

Edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky; Translated by Tatiana Sorokin

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The Maisky Diaries

The Wartime Revelations of Stalin's Ambassador in London

Ivan Maisky; edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky

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