100 books like Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945

By R.C. Raack,

Here are 100 books that Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945 fans have personally recommended if you like Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

Sean McMeekin Author Of Stalin's War: A New History of World War II

From my list on Stalin and the Second World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1992, I graduated high school and although I did not then know how to read or speak Russian, I interviewed six Soviet veterans who happened to live in a nursing home in Rochester NY. I was blown away by their stories; each was missing at least one limb and had a tale to tell about it. The timing was fortuitous in that there was an exhibition at the U.S. Library of Congress that summer on “Revelations from the Russian archives,” which has just opened to researchers. Although it took me some years to master Russian, I resolved then and there to go to the source and research Soviet history in Moscow itself. I am a historian now and I have been working in Moscow archives for nearly a quarter-century now. Stalin’s War is my eighth book to date, all of which draw on this work in the Russian archives.

Sean's book list on Stalin and the Second World War

Sean McMeekin Why did Sean love this book?

Sebag Montefiore was the first western historian to really take advantage of the opening of Russian – and Georgian – archival sources on Stalin and his career. Court of the Red Tsar offers a precious glimpse into Stalin’s inner circle and the way the USSR was governed in the 1930s and 1940s. Although gossipy at times, and written in a popular style some professional historians resent, the book is deeply researched and a treasure trove of information which is hard to find elsewhere.

By Simon Sebag Montefiore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stalin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the British Book Awards History Book of the Year

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize

This thrilling biography of Stalin and his entourage during the terrifying decades of his supreme power transforms our understanding of Stalin as Soviet dictator, Marxist leader and Russian tsar.

Based on groundbreaking research, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals in captivating detail the fear and betrayal, privilege and debauchery, family life and murderous cruelty of this secret world. Written with extraordinary narrative verve, this magnificent feat of scholarly research has become a classic of modern history writing. Showing how Stalin's triumphs and crimes were the…


Book cover of Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War 1941-1945

David Stahel Author Of Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East

From my list on Operation Barbarossa.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a young man reading my first books about the Second World War I was struck by the dimensions of Germany’s war in the East. Battles at El Alamein, Monte Cassino, and Normandy were familiar to me, but suddenly there emerged dozens of new battlefields in the East, most dwarfing the Anglo-American experience of the war, which I’d never heard of. My curiosity drove my reading and, as the saying goes, the more I knew, the more questions I had. Thirty years on, and ten books under my belt, has not yet satisfied that curiosity, but at least, thanks to Shepherd, I can share some of it.

David's book list on Operation Barbarossa

David Stahel Why did David love this book?

The final recommendation I’d make is only partly related to Operation Barbarossa, but deserves inclusion in that discussion as well as the wider coverage of the war (for those seeking to go further). Mawdsley covers the war from many angles (economic, political, military as well as the experience of occupation) and provides insightful analysis for each turn of events. The endnotes and bibliography are exhaustive, providing a useful guide for whatever subject of interest a reader exploring the vast historiography of the Nazi-Soviet war might have. A first-rate read for both Operation Barbarossa and the wider war in the East.

By Evan Mawdsley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Thunder in the East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The battles in Russia played the decisive part in Hitler's defeat. Gigantic, prolonged, and bloody, they contrasted with the general nature of the fighting on other fronts. The Russians fought on their own in "their" theater of war and with an indepedent strategy. Stalinist Russia was a country radically different from its liberal democratic allies. Hitler and the German high command, for their part, conceived and carried out the Russian campaign as a singular "war of annihilation." This riveting new book is a penetrating, broad-ranging, yet concise overview of this vast conflict. It investigates the Wehrmacht and the Red Army…


Book cover of Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Sean McMeekin Author Of Stalin's War: A New History of World War II

From my list on Stalin and the Second World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1992, I graduated high school and although I did not then know how to read or speak Russian, I interviewed six Soviet veterans who happened to live in a nursing home in Rochester NY. I was blown away by their stories; each was missing at least one limb and had a tale to tell about it. The timing was fortuitous in that there was an exhibition at the U.S. Library of Congress that summer on “Revelations from the Russian archives,” which has just opened to researchers. Although it took me some years to master Russian, I resolved then and there to go to the source and research Soviet history in Moscow itself. I am a historian now and I have been working in Moscow archives for nearly a quarter-century now. Stalin’s War is my eighth book to date, all of which draw on this work in the Russian archives.

Sean's book list on Stalin and the Second World War

Sean McMeekin Why did Sean love this book?

Using newly available Soviet sources, along with Japanese and American documents, Hasegawa fills a gaping hole in the vast literature on the dropping of the atomic bombs and the conclusion of the Pacific war in August-September 1945. For too long, western historians have told this story without reference to the immense Soviet role in the drama – or if they mention the Soviets at all, it is to use the Red Army’s last-minute intervention to argue either for or against the necessity of dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to break Japanese resistance. What Hasegawa shows is how central Soviet neutrality – negotiated by Stalin in 1941 and still operative in summer 1945 – was to Japanese decision-making, right up to the moment Tokyo appealed to Stalin for mediation after Hiroshima, only to learn in horror that peace in the Far East was the last thing Stalin –…

By Tsuyoshi Hasegawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Racing the Enemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With startling revelations, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa rewrites the standard history of the end of World War II in the Pacific. By fully integrating the three key actors in the story--the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan--Hasegawa for the first time puts the last months of the war into international perspective.

From April 1945, when Stalin broke the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact and Harry Truman assumed the presidency, to the final Soviet military actions against Japan, Hasegawa brings to light the real reasons Japan surrendered. From Washington to Moscow to Tokyo and back again, he shows us a high-stakes diplomatic game as…


Book cover of Stalin’s Secret War

Sean McMeekin Author Of Stalin's War: A New History of World War II

From my list on Stalin and the Second World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1992, I graduated high school and although I did not then know how to read or speak Russian, I interviewed six Soviet veterans who happened to live in a nursing home in Rochester NY. I was blown away by their stories; each was missing at least one limb and had a tale to tell about it. The timing was fortuitous in that there was an exhibition at the U.S. Library of Congress that summer on “Revelations from the Russian archives,” which has just opened to researchers. Although it took me some years to master Russian, I resolved then and there to go to the source and research Soviet history in Moscow itself. I am a historian now and I have been working in Moscow archives for nearly a quarter-century now. Stalin’s War is my eighth book to date, all of which draw on this work in the Russian archives.

Sean's book list on Stalin and the Second World War

Sean McMeekin Why did Sean love this book?

This book is the one exception to my rule about access to Soviet documents. Writing at a time when he had no such access, Tolstoy nonetheless blew up the field with bold arguments deriving from sources to which he did have access, from Soviet dissident memoirs to a vast trove of material he discovered in the Public Record Office in Kew Gardens, London, in particular on the often-neglected “Phony War” period of WWII between the fall of Poland and Hitler’s invasion of France and the Low Countries – a period during which Britain and France nearly went to war with the USSR after Stalin’s invasion of Finland. At a time when the Soviet bloc still denied Stalin’s responsibility for the “Katyn massacre” of Polish officers and elites in 1940, Tolstoy argued not merely for Stalin’s responsibility but explained why Stalin ordered the massacre when he did, confronted as the Soviet…

By Nikolai Tolstoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalin’s Secret War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1 HARDCOVER BOOK WITH DUST COVER


Book cover of The Silent Guns of Two Octobers: Kennedy and Khrushchev Play the Double Game

Sheldon M. Stern Author Of The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis

From my list on Cuban Missile Crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

In early 1981, the JFK Library began the process of declassifying the Cuban missile crisis ExComm tapes; as the Library’s Historian, the responsibility for reviewing these recordings was mine—and it changed my life. I spent most of the next two years listening to the tapes from the legendary 13 Days (and subsequently from the November “post-crisis”). I was the first non-ExComm participant and professional historian to hear and evaluate these unique and definitive historical recordings. After the tapes were declassified in the late 1990s, I wrote three books (published by Stanford University Press) about their historical importance.

Sheldon's book list on Cuban Missile Crisis

Sheldon M. Stern Why did Sheldon love this book?

Voorhees' assessment of John F. Kennedy's leadership during the Cuban missile crisis is strikingly different from most books on the subject. He examines JFK's decision-making through the lens of the president's domestic political concerns and use of back-channel diplomacy with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev rather than through the conventional workings of his foreign and national security policy establishments. He also challenges the prevailing view that Kennedy's ultimate strategy for resolving the crisis was primarily shaped by the “ExComm” or by the top officials at the Pentagon, State Department, and CIA. Voorhees insists, supported by an impressive array of evidence, that the Cuban missile crisis did not bring the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon and his book promises to become an integral part of the historical conversation.

By Theodore Voorhees,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Silent Guns of Two Octobers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Silent Guns of Two Octobers uses new as well as previously under-appreciated documentary evidence to link the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Checkpoint Charlie tank standoff to achieve the impossible-craft a new, thoughtful, original analysis of a political showdown everyone thought they knew everything about. Ultimately the book concludes that much of the Cold War rhetoric the leaders employed was mere posturing; in reality neither had any intention of starting a nuclear war. Theodore Voorhees reexamines Khrushchev's and Kennedy's leadership, decision, and rhetoric in light of the new documentary evidence available. Voorhees examines the impact of John F. Kennedy's…


Book cover of The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James's, 1932-1943

Andrew Nagorski Author Of 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War

From my list on the view from London in 1941.

Why am I passionate about this?

Award-winning journalist and historian Andrew Nagorski was born in Scotland to Polish parents, moved to the United States as an infant, and has rarely stopped moving since. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine's bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. In 1982, he gained international notoriety when the Kremlin, angered by his enterprising reporting, expelled him from the Soviet Union. Nagorski is the author of seven books, including The Nazi Hunters and Hitlerland.

Andrew's book list on the view from London in 1941

Andrew Nagorski Why did Andrew love this book?

Ivan Maisky served as the Soviet Union’s ambassador in London from 1932 to 1943. In his extensive diaries, he chronicled his frequent interactions with Churchill and other British officials. He predicted that 1941 would be “the decisive year of the war,” which proved accurate. But, like his boss Joseph Stalin, he refused to believe at first that Hitler would turn against the Soviet Union, with whom Germany had signed a non-aggression pact. His diary shows how quickly the Kremlin acted as if it had always opposed Hitler’s plans—and made increasingly strident demands for Western aid. The makings of the future Cold War are already evident in this account.

By Ivan Maisky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Maisky Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Highlights of the extraordinary wartime diaries of Ivan Maisky, Soviet ambassador to London

The terror and purges of Stalin's Russia in the 1930s discouraged Soviet officials from leaving documentary records let alone keeping personal diaries. A remarkable exception is the unique diary assiduously kept by Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943. This selection from Maisky's diary, never before published in English, grippingly documents Britain's drift to war during the 1930s, appeasement in the Munich era, negotiations leading to the signature of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Churchill's rise to power, the German invasion of Russia, and the…


Book cover of Witness to History, 1929-1969

James A. W. Heffernan Author Of Politics and Literature at the Dawn of World War II

From my list on the origin of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born on April 22, 1939, just over four months before the start of World War II, and the very first words I can remember reading were a big black headline in August 1945: The War is Over. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with that war, and about 75 years after it ended, I felt moved to write a book about how it began. Since I hold a PhD in English from Princeton, taught English at Dartmouth for nearly forty years, and I’ve been studying, teaching, and writing about literature for sixty years, I decided to make it a book about literature: the fiction, poetry, and drama inspired by World War II.

James' book list on the origin of World War II

James A. W. Heffernan Why did James love this book?

Here is the ultimate insider’s story of what led up to the deal that Hitler made with Stalin in late August of 1939. At 34, a dashing Harvard graduate named Charles “Chip” Bohlen had just become the senior Russian-language officer in charge of political reporting at the American Embassy. Though his chief job was to find out if the Soviets were making a deal with Hitler, Bohlen couldn’t get a word out of the Russians. So he turned to a young German diplomat named “Johnny” Herwarth who was secretly in touch with the German resistance. This book is the fascinating story of their covert communications on the eve of the “Non-Aggression Agreement” between Hitler and Stalin—the deal that led directly to their joint invasion of Poland in September.

By Charles E Bohlen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witness to History, 1929-1969 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“At the end of the 1920’s the Foreign Service of the United States... introduced a program of regional specialization. It was a fortunate innovation, for... it provided the Service with a group of well‐trained Russian‐language specialists just... when the United States was beginning its new and troubled association with the Soviet Union.

One of the first of these was Charles E. Bohlen, and for the next 40 years he was to be involved in every major development in Soviet American relations, serving under William C. Bullitt in the Moscow embassy in 1934, acting as interpreter and adviser at the wartime…


Book cover of Roosevelt's Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War

Susanna Erlandsson Author Of Personal Politics in the Postwar World: Western Diplomacy Behind the Scenes

From my list on everyday gendered practices and political power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian with a doctorate and years of experience in diplomatic history. While researching a foreign minister’s policy decisions, I stumbled across his wife’s diaries. Later, I went back to read them. What started as sheer curiosity turned into a mission when I realised how vital diplomats’ wives were to the functioning of twentieth-century diplomacy. Yet I had spent years in the field without reading about the influence of gender. I wrote a book to bridge the gap and challenge the idea that diplomatic history can disregard gender if its focus is political. The books on my list show how everyday gendered practices are connected to political power.

Susanna's book list on everyday gendered practices and political power

Susanna Erlandsson Why did Susanna love this book?

Roosevelt's Lost Alliances is perhaps the book that has had the most tangible influence on my own work. Seeing how Frank Costigliola highlighted and analysed the political consequences of personal preferences and relations was eye-opening.

When the book appeared, some reviewers claimed that Costigliola made leaders' personalities all-important and overlooked structural factors. Because I had read that criticism before I read the book, I was surprised to find a nuanced account of how personal and political factors intersected. I found those reviews blatantly unfair.

By carefully analysing their personal preferences and relations, Costigliola did not claim that a few powerful men determined history. Rather, he showed how emotional and cultural factors, which are surely structural, influenced them and their decision-making.

By Frank Costigliola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roosevelt's Lost Alliances as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1945, as the Allied victory in Europe was approaching, the shape of the postwar world hinged on the personal politics and flawed personalities of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. "Roosevelt's Lost Alliances" captures this moment and shows how FDR crafted a winning coalition by overcoming the different habits, upbringings, sympathies, and past experiences of the three leaders. In particular, Roosevelt trained his famous charm on Stalin, lavishing respect on him, salving his insecurities, and rendering him more amenable to compromise on some matters. Yet, even as he pursued a lasting peace, FDR was alienating his own intimate…


Book cover of The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev's Adaptability, Reagan's Engagement, and the End of the Cold War

John Philipp Baesler Author Of Clearer Than Truth: The Polygraph and the American Cold War

From my list on Russia in Western eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in West Germany, surrounded by American soldiers and with a father who had escaped communist East Germany, the Cold War always fascinated me. What was it about? Would it ever end? When it did, it took everybody by surprise. This lesson, that nothing is certain and that history can always make a turn when you least expect it, stayed with me as I pursued my degrees in history, first in Heidelberg and then at Indiana University Bloomington. As an immigrant to the United States, I study the United States from the outside and the inside. How Americans see themselves, and how they see others, is my main interest that I keep exploring from different angles.

John's book list on Russia in Western eyes

John Philipp Baesler Why did John love this book?

This book tells it like it is: The end of the Cold War was not the fulfillment of President Reagan’s grand plan to destroy communism, but neither was it the natural outcome of the decline of the Soviet Empire. In Wilson’s telling, based on an array of documents from both sides of the Iron Curtain, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Communism were, more than anything else, an accident. At crucial points, decision-makers on both sides made the right calls, but they had to respond to events that increasingly took on a dynamic of their own. I love this book because it emphasizes that history is chaos: Not random, but unpredictable!

By James Graham Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Triumph of Improvisation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Triumph of Improvisation, James Graham Wilson takes a long view of the end of the Cold War, from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 to Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. Drawing on deep archival research and recently declassified papers, Wilson argues that adaptation, improvisation, and engagement by individuals in positions of power ended the specter of a nuclear holocaust. Amid ambivalence and uncertainty, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, George Shultz, and George H. W. Bush-and a host of other actors-engaged with adversaries and adapted to a rapidly changing international environment and information age in which global…


Book cover of Russia and the Idea of Europe: A Study in Identity and International Relations

Andrei P. Tsygankov Author Of Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity

From my list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Russian academic living in the West and a contributor to both Western and Russian academia. I move between the two and try to build bridges by explaining the two sides’ differences and areas of potential cooperation. I do it in my teaching and research on international politics, which I understand through the lens of culture and politics. Most of my books analyze Russian and Western patterns of thinking formed through history and interaction with each other. I love reading good books about these topics and hope you enjoy my selected list!

Andrei's book list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War

Andrei P. Tsygankov Why did Andrei love this book?

Russia has historically connected to Europe as its significant other. This book describes the nature of the country’s identity development through the love-hate relations with European nations and search for recognition by Western other. Sometimes, Russia has sought to borrow Europe’s institutions and values. Other times, it has positioned itself as a great power and a superior system of internal values relative to “corrupt” Europe. 

By Iver B. Neumann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia and the Idea of Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The end of the Soviet system and the transition to the market in Russia, coupled with the inexorable rise of nationalism, brought to the fore the centuries-old debate about Russia's relationship with Europe. In this revised and updated second edition of Russia and the Idea of Europe, Iver Neumann discusses whether the tensions between self-referencing nationalist views and Europe-orientated liberal views can ever be resolved.

Drawing on a wide range of Russian sources, this book retains the broad historical focus of the previous edition and picks up from where the it off in the early 1990s, bringing the discussion fully…


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