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"Stalin's Curse" Robert Gellately


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WSJ Book Review



Who started the Cold War? For the first two decades after it began, the answer seemed obvious: Stalin's Soviet Union was responsible for dismantling the wartime alliance against Hitler as soon as World War II was over and deliberately launching a costly struggle for global supremacy between communism and capitalism. Then, in the late 1960s, a revisionism set in among Western academics and intellectuals who attempted to absolve the Russians and—in the spirit of time—place the blame on Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, NATO, the CIA and America's "military-industrial complex."


Fortunately, with the Cold War finally won in 1992, the opening of the Russian archives provided chapter and verse for the truth: that the Cold War had indeed been started by Stalin. True, there are still leftists holding out for the revisionist theory. They are reminiscent, appropriately enough, of Romania's Securitate secret police, who carried on sniping from upper windows in Bucharest after the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu had fallen. Now fondly held theories of American guilt receive a devastating blow from an impeccably researched and cogently argued book proving that, in the dawn of the Cold War, "Moscow made all the first moves and that if anything the West was woefully complacent until 1947 or 1948, when the die was already cast."


In "Stalin's Curse," Robert Gellately, a historian at Florida State University, shows how Stalin "exercised a profound influence, far more hands-on than often supposed" in the postwar takeover of Eastern Europe by "national front" coalition governments. Stalin's philosophy was explained to a group of Yugoslavians in 1948 through the formulation: "You strike when you can, and avoid the battle when you cannot. We will join the fight when conditions favor us and not when they favor the enemy."




In that sense, "Stalin's Curse" should be read in conjunction with Anne Applebaum's recent "Iron Curtain," which chronicles what was taking place in Eastern Europe as a direct result of the decisions that Mr. Gellately describes Stalin making in the Kremlin. It is terrifying to think what might have happened if the Western traitors that gave Stalin the know-how to make the bomb by 1949 had managed to get it to him even earlier, in 1946, say, or even 1945.





Certain groups are not going to be happy with this new book

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