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Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia Paperback – April 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An excellent new history." -- Victorino Matus, American Spectator

"This literary sensation is an enthralling narrative and an outstanding historical investigation." -- Economist

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

About the Author

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

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084597
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KCM on October 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Strangely, contrary to direction one might expect, military histories of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, rather than becoming more "disciplined" from an American standpoint--insofar as they follow the expectations, rules, and requirements of profesional academia, particularly in the area of citation and presentation of evidence--seem to becoming less structured, less clearly cited, and more haphazard. Maybe I'm reading the wrong materials, or maybe I'm just overly pessimistic. In any case, Gorodetsky's work here, at least, is a much needed deviation from this unfortunate trend, based less on emotional appeals, attractive, even romantic notions and popular culture that seems more than a little pervasive in Second World War histories, particularly in the Eastern Front, and more on an extremely indepth, analytical view based on access to very numerous archives in, from what I've seen, multiple states.

I don't expect 'Grand Delusion' to serve as a rallying cry for any of the political "sides" concerning the Eastern Front--it's too rational, too deliberately methodical and expositional to do that, especially compared to its competition, it's language reserved and tempered by comparison. That could be a strike against Gorodetsky, but I personally don't think it detracts from it in its intended purpose. It does historical personalities little in the way of favors, but greatly interests the interested reader.

On a side note, I had a chance to speak with Dr. Gorodetsky about his book, very briefly--he mentioned the unfortunate fact that the designer for the book's cover cut off part of the photograph, removing part of the sign that would have otherwise indicated the German's proximity to Moscow (if memory serves correctly). Another case of a cover messed-up for aesthetics, I guess.
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By Thomas Reiter on June 26, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent, well-written, well-sourced history of 1940-1941, prior to the German invasion of Russia. I can't add much to the description of the book in other reviews, so I'll just mention a couple of things about the book:

1) While it should be obvious from the topic of the book, this is not a military history per se (war had not broken out yet), but rather a diplomatic history. The fighting in France, Yugoslavia, Greece, etc. is covered briefly to provide context, but nothing more.

2) This book does not cover the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, only its aftermath.

3) While apparently this book was written in response to claims that the USSR was planning a pre-emptive attack in 1941, don't expect a point-by-point rebuttal as I've seen in other books; rather, the author lays out the facts (as he's been able to document them) and then simply concludes that there is no truth to the pre-emptive attack theories.

4) The author does an excellent job of describing the diplomatic moves/counter-moves/reactions during 1940-1941--the period was very tumultuous, with various annexations, invasions, wars, etc., each of which "reshuffled the deck" (in the author's words). Stalin's complacency after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was shattered after the Germans' smashing victory in France, prompting Russian moves into the Baltics and Bessarabia, prompting German moves into Yugoslavia and Greece, etc.

5) The author also does an excellent job describing why Stalin trusted the Brits even less then he did Hitler, how various British maneuvers played into this distrust, and how it played into his (mis)calculations.

6) This book gives an excellent description of the intelligence received by Stalin--what he knew, when he knew it, how it was presented to him, and usually, why he didn't believe it. Very interesting...
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Gabriel Gorodetsky, a renowned Professor of Russian Studues in Tel Aviv university, examines in this book a fascinating period in the Soviet Union's foreing policy. The time between the signing of the Molotov Ribebbentrop non aggression treaty in August 1939 and the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Germans in Jyne 1941.

Gorodetsky documents this perion in painstaking detail, yet his book makes for fascinating reading. He manages to refute the theory , put forwatd several years ago by Viktor Suvorov in his book Icebreaker, that Stalin authorized the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact of 1939 because he was preparing to bring revolutionary war to Europe and wanted to neutralize Hitler.

An unanswered question, that the author sets out to reasearch in detail, is why did Stalin continue to cooperate with Hitler, appease him, supply him with huge quantities of strategic supplies, and even allow the Luftwaffe to conduct hundreds of espionage sorties over Germany, when he had in front of him detailed eveidence of Hitler's preparartions to invade the Soviet Union

The author proves, based on thorough research of Soviet archives, that Stalin was scared of Germany's might, that he knew that his army was ill preapred for a conflict and doomed for a rapid defeat, so he tried his best to avoid or even just delay war with Hitler. Stalin did everything he could, and then some, to appease the Germans. On the other hand he also tried diplomatic manouvers , which genreally fail' to buy the SSSR some space by gaining influence in the Balkans, signing a neutrality pact with Japan , and gaining foothold in the Danibe Basin.

Stalin had a "conception" - that, if appeased, Hitler will not attack the SU< at least not without a preceing ultimatum.
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