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

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The Holocaust Laurence Rees. It is astonishing that the British were so slow to defend themselves in real terms under Churchill's leadership, instead portrayed as incessantly resisting Stalin's demands for a Second Front, despite Roosevelt's much earlier commitment to send more I'm rating this so highly because it answered important questions regarding Poland and WWII at exactly the right time.

It is astonishing that the British were so slow to defend themselves in real terms under Churchill's leadership, instead portrayed as incessantly resisting Stalin's demands for a Second Front, despite Roosevelt's much earlier commitment to send more troops to the continent than the UK ever did.

I've read other reader reviews which suggest that the book is overly apologetic regarding Churchill's position, but my impression was exactly the opposite, to the degree that I thought there might be some overt bias by the author, based potentially on what I'm told is a Welsh surname. The book dwells altogether too much on stated positions and summary non-binding agreements, such as Potsdam, in order to explain history.

It is less successful when it tries to describe the motives of the key players. Since Stalin was indeed so untrustworthy, why did he forfeit so much territory the Russians won with so much hardship going into Germany? Still, the writer's sometimes outright contempt for the British position seems ever more justified the more one reads about the events leading up to WWII. View 1 comment. Nov 27, Volodymyr rated it it was amazing. This was a great book, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has at least some interest in the topic WW2.

This isn't your typical boring historical book full of raw facts, but rather a captivating narrative about the key people people in the war Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt. It is based on the logs of the meetings that took place between them, personal opinions of important political figures e. This way you get a unique glance at approaches used by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill, as well as their personalities. For example, Roosevelt preferred to send his pawns to Churchill or Stalin when he had to negotiate an action that could potentially upset the other of the two instead of doing it himself.

When he got caught, he blamed the pawn and claimed that he personally had no intention of doing the item in question. Or you get to see Stalin's brilliance when it came to Machiavellian techniques of preserving power - for example after the war was over, he relocated his star general and war hero Zhukov into a minor region, as Zhukov was a threat to his power.

There are many more including countless executions and imprisonments. Out of the three, it appears that Stalin had the most cunning to get what he wanted as the result of the negotiations - it is very unfortunate how easily US and UK gave up the fates of Central and Eastern Europe, although that was the price of saving lives of their soldiers.

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Lastly, one of the key objectives of this book was to disprove WW2 as the war between the good and the evil. There is no question that Nazis were evil, nor there are any questions about noble intentions of US and UK using the word "action" here would be a stretch - the book illustrates that. Everything changes when you throw USSR into the mix. With countless repressions, starting wars against peaceful countries and genocide that killed millions on their hands already before WW2 , USSR proceeded with mass murder of civilians, mass deportations of minorities and mass rape.

Therefore, it is quite hard to label them as "good" to say the least. TLDR: read this book! Dec 30, Rajat Jain rated it it was amazing. FDR always had elections to fight. Stalin never. Amazing how the Allies bent over backwards to appease Stalin. The "cost" of such enormous power to Stalin was 26M Russians not that he cared about them. Allies had as much casualties in total or even lesser! Amazing how he kept talking about freedom and democracy and yet never wanted to let go of the British Empire or never hesitated to orchestrate the Bengal famine, but kept taking offence on the Polish massacre.

Decisively so, in my opinion. Reaffirmed by this book.

World War Two: Behind Closed Doors

View 2 comments. Aug 11, Venkateswaran rated it really liked it. When I took up this book, I expected more descriptions of battlefield action. But this book is more an analysis of causes and effects of decisions made by the big 3. Still surprisingly, it is a good page turner The whole book provides an amazing analysis of Stalin the man. While it is clear that someone manipulated someone else, it is not exactly clear who the victim of manipulation was. Or was this Stalin's plan all along? Ultimately quite a few myths that I had about WW II were completely busted foremost among those being that the war was a moral one of good against evil.

Germany soviet union pact before WWII was not taught to me. Clearly, historians choose to omit inconvenient truths.


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Ultimately realpolitik won over morality. In the whole of history, has it ever been any different Oct 21, Kaarthik Anebou rated it it was amazing. For all WW II avid readers - a must read. All diplomacy is cloaked under selfish motives. From my recollections on other books I have read the atrocities by Allied powers is perhaps on par For all WW II avid readers - a must read.

From my recollections on other books I have read the atrocities by Allied powers is perhaps on par with what Hitler did to Germany. Overall, all participants countries against the "Axis" are keen to know what they will get once the war is over. Dec 12, Heather Hornbacher rated it really liked it. This was at once a fascinating book and a book I could barely find the spirit to finish.

It's subject matter has been interesting to me since I was in grade school and the expose of political strategy and intrigue was superb.

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But the depth of human pain exposed in the book was heavy on my heart and I could only get through a little before I had to stop and digest all the cruelty of humanity for a day. This is not the lovely sugary WWII that is given in the history books and it set me as judge ov This was at once a fascinating book and a book I could barely find the spirit to finish.

This is not the lovely sugary WWII that is given in the history books and it set me as judge over the Allies and their choices. It took some time to work through how I felt about what they did and how they did it. I'm still not fully at peace with my thoughts and will be thinking about it for awhile. I guess in all aspects it was a good book and engaged me thoroughly but at the same time repulsed me. In the end Rees discusses what the Allies could have done to change how things went and I really liked that it had that discussion. It could have explored the subject more deeply in my opinion.

Recommended to Paul by: Nobody, picked up in an Airport bookshop. Two things make this book a very good read: 1. The witness testimony that Rees uses throughout to illustrate the key elements of the WW2 story, chilling, disturbing, at times haunting and unforgettable 2. The one aspect of the book that doesn't quite work is the mix of witness statements and high politics and military commentary that Rees uses throughout the book, but that is a minor criticism indeed. It is very readable, as Rees's stuff usually is.

Highly recommended. May 27, Michael Flanagan rated it it was amazing Shelves: ww Laurence Rees has delivered yet again. Behind closed doors is a look at the Big Three Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt and their dealings with each other. The book is full of intrigue and insights into diplomacy of the era as well as a study of these three big personalities. As Usual Rees threads his narrative with eye witness accounts of the behind the scene going on's as well as from those who where effected by their decisions. I would like to think myself well read in the World War 2 era, bu Laurence Rees has delivered yet again.

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I would like to think myself well read in the World War 2 era, but this book introduced me to key historical event's which are barely mentioned in other text. The author's ability to be able to put these in context and compare with other more well known events left me awe struck. This book easily matches the high standards already set by this author in his other books of the period; I can't wait till his next offering.

Apr 15, iain meek rated it really liked it Recommends it for: historians, communists. A well written but very sad history of the alliance between the West and Stalin culminating in the loss of Poland as a free country and the descent of the iron curtain. A pity Roosevelt and Churchill did not agree.

A big thank you to my stepdaughter, Nicky, who gave me this as a present. I hope that history does not repeat itself! Impressive and totally tragic 'back-channel' history of the WWII Sep 05, Alex Robinson rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. A fascinating overview of how political necessity made the Western powers overlook what a monster Stalin was they could not have beat the Nazis without the USSR.

Herodotus Herodotus , Herodotus. Midnight in Chernobyl. Origin Story. A Short History of Europe. The Monuments Men. Stanley Christopherson. The House by the Lake. The Crime and the Silence. Snake Dance. Shame and the Captives. Cruel Crossing.