On June 22, 1941, radios all over the Soviet Union crackled with the announcement that the country had been attacked by Nazi Germany. But the voice on the airwaves was not the familiar one of Joseph Stalin; it was the voice of his deputy, Molotov. Paralyzed by Hitler's unexpected move, Stalin disappeared completely from public view for the crucial ten days of war on the Eastern Front. In this taut, hour-by-hour account, Constantine Pleshakov draws on a wealth of information from newly opened archives to elucidate the complex causes of the Soviet leader's reaction, revealing the feared despot's unrealized military stratagems as well as his personal vulnerabilities, while also offering a new and deeper understanding of Russian history.
About the Author
Russian-born Constantine Pleshakov is the author of The Tsar's Last Armada The Flight of the Romanovs, and Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War. He is a visiting prefessor of history at Mount Holyoke College.
"Pleshakov, already author of outstanding and wonderfully readable books on Soviet foreign policy and the 1904 Russo-Japanese War, delivers an accessible, scholarly and gripping narrative that tells of Stalin's biggest mistake and the mayhem of the first days of Barbarossa." --Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar and Potemkin: Catherine the Great’s Imperial Partner
"Stalin's failure to prepare for Hitler's sudden attack in June of 1941 takes on terrible new meaning in Constantine Pleshakov's gripping book. Trained as an historian, but interpreting newly available sources with a novelist's eye and ear, Pleshakov provides devastating sketches of Stalin and his generals, heartbreaking descriptions of ordinary soldiers and civilians awash in the chaos of war, new revelations about Stalin's own secret planning for a preemptive attack until Hitler beat him to it, and biting, trenchant analysis of how the rout and despair demonstrated the utter failure of the Soviet system, yet inspired the Red Army to fight its way to the heart of the Third Reich four years later." --William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
"A stimulating, and often fruitfully provocative account of the array of complex and self-contradictory irrationalities with which Stalin mishandled, and barely survived, Hitler’s attack in 1941. And, as background, a striking overview of the human suffering that resulted." --Robert Conquest, author of The Great Terror and The Dragons of Expectation
This is a very lively account of a most deadly moment in modern history. Pleshakov knows how to tell a story, and his portrait of Stalin, based on fresh evidence from the Russian archives, is a devastating depiction of colossal incompetence." --Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of His Excellency: George Washington, American Sphinx, and Founding Brothers
"A spellbinding account of Stalin's deliberations [and] his enraged, baffled, then paralyzed reaction to events." --Foreign Affairs