Stalin Waiting For Hitler 1928-1941 review: Stalin needs allies and forms pact with Hitler

Kotkin opens the book by pointing out that Stain achieved very little in his first thirty-nine years and also that he was human, a point that some of his detractors might find hard to believe given what he would do to his fellow man (and woman) once he consolidated his power.

Stalin would break open two cigarettes for tobacco for his pipe, he drank mineral water, liked coloured pencils and would often wrap documents in newspaper rather than use a briefcase.

So far, so Mr Pooter.

Well, up to a point if Mr Pooter had plans to create a socialist paradise that brooked no opposition.

In the book we can see how it was the society that he created that moulded Stalin rather than he moulding society in his image.

As he did so the Soviet Union stood alone without friend or even allies and this at rick from enemies abroad and often within the party and society although man, wisely, kept their own counsel.

It was this solitariness that led to the non-aggression pact with Hitler.

However, the deal did not work out quite to everyone’s satisfaction. 

This is a hefty volume – almost 1,200 pages and the notes and sources appear in a tiny font over three columns – but it is an important one for anyone who wants to study Twentieth Century history. 

I visited the Soviet Union in the 1980s and even in those days three decades on from Stalin, some of the people I spoke to harkened back to the days of Stalin with affection and longing. This was years after Khrushchev had denounced Stalin.

For some people being responsible for the deaths of millions isn’t a reason for dislike.

I can’t wait for Volume 3.