The Second World War was the defining moment in the history of the Soviet Union. With Stalin at the helm, it emerged victorious at a huge economic and human cost. But even before the fighting had ended, Stalin began to turn against the architects of success.
In this original and comprehensive study, Alfred J. Rieber examines Stalin as a wartime leader, arguing that his policies were profoundly paradoxical. In preparation for the war, Stalin mobilized the whole of Soviet society in pursuit of his military goals and intensified the centralization of his power. Yet at the same time, his use of terror weakened the forces vital to the defense of the country. In his efforts to rebuild the country after the devastating losses and destruction, he suppressed groups that had contributed immeasurably to victory. His steady, ruthless leadership cultivated a legacy that was to burden the Soviet Union and Russia to the present day.
“How Stalin, for all his strategic misjudgements, succeeded in preparing for war, mobilizing his people and fighting to victory in Berlin remains an intriguing historical question. Stalin as Warlord is a thought-provoking and informed account set squarely in the many debates that surround Stalin's role, but at the same time refreshingly perceptive, intelligently critical and lucidly written.”—Richard Overy, author of Blood and Ruins: The Great Imperial War, 1931-1945
“A remarkably penetrating picture of Stalin's wartime rule. Rieber brings out the contradictions between destructive and creative impulses that shaped the Kremlin's exercise of power in those critical years. Timely reading for anyone seeking to understand the fundamentals driving Russia.”—Alex Pravda, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
“A sweeping and magisterial overview of Stalin's qualities and defects as the leader of a great power during a huge war which involved coordinating numerous different areas of national life.”—Geoffrey Hosking, author of Russia and the Russians~Geoffrey Hosking