From Publishers Weekly
One of the enduring puzzles of World War II is Stalin's dismissal of unmistakable evidence of a looming German invasion, a blunder that contributed to the disastrous Russian defeats of 1941. This engaging study of the Soviet intelligence apparatus helps clarify the mystery. Murphy, an ex-CIA Soviet specialist and co-author of Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War, argues that Stalin knew virtually everything for many months before the attack. Soviet spies in the German government offered detailed reports of invasion plans. Britain and the United States passed along warnings. Soviet agents in Eastern Europe noted the millions of German soldiers heading east to the Soviet border and their stock-piling of weapons and Russian phrase books. Stalin rejected these reports as Western provocations and barred the Red Army from taking elementary precautions, like chasing off the German reconnaissance planes surveying their defenses. Murphy presents a bizarre additional wrinkle in two letters Hitler sent to allay Stalin's suspicions, which claimed that the German armies massing in Poland were preparing to attack England and warned Stalin that rogue Wehrmacht units might invade Russia against Hitler's wishes-a smokescreen that inhibited Stalin's response to the German buildup and initial attacks. Murphy chalks up the debacle to Stalin's clinging to a Marxist fantasy of the capitalist powers fighting each other to exhaustion, and to the paralysis instilled in the Red Army by his purges. Fearful subordinates bowed to Stalin's absurd complacency about German intentions; the one intelligence chief who dared challenge his delusions was arrested and shot. Murphy's well-researched account offers both a meticulous reconstruction of an intelligence epic and a window into the tragedy of Stalin's despotism.
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"David Murphy brings the incisive eye of a former intelligence professional to the dramatic story of Operation Barbarossa. The result is a significant addition to our understanding of Stalin and the Second World War."—David Stafford, author of Churchill and Secret Service and of Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets
“David Murphy has written a valuable and detailed account of the intelligence from Soviet sources warning Stalin of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, that helps to explain his costly refusal to heed their warnings.”—Donald Kagan, Yale University
"What Stalin Knew is a fascinating and meticulously researched account of mistaken assumptions and errors of judgment that culminated in Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941. Never before has this fateful period been so fully documented."—Henry A. Kissinger
(Henry A. Kissinger)
“This is a masterly book, very well documented and composed. It casts a clear and strong light on what is (and remains) the enigma of June 1941 and of the two or three months preceding it: what Stalin knew, and, perhaps more telling: what Stalin did not want to know. David Murphy’s knowledge and his reading of Russian papers, books, and articles is the fundament of this extraordinary reconstruction. It should be of high interest, well beyond the ranks of Russian and Soviet specialists, for every serious reader about the Second World War.”—John Lukacs
“Fascinating and shrewd, this intelligence officer’s investigation throws new light onto Stalin’s colossal blunder, one of the war’s greatest mysteries—as well as tells the story with the suspense of a wartime thriller.”—Simon Sebag Montefiore, Author of Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar and Potemkin: Catherine The Great’s Imperial Favourite
“David Murphy has provided a complete indictment of the purblind prejudice and fixed ideas which prevented Stalin from crediting the terrible truth being offered him by many sources. The result was ‘The Great Fatherland War of the Soviet People’ and the deaths of still untold millions of Soviet citizens.”—William J. Spahr, author of Zhukov: The Rise and Fall of a Great Captain
(William J. Spahr)