PositiveFinancial Times (UK)A truly fascinating study that leaves no doubt that Stalin took ideas as seriously as political power itself ... Roberts makes a convincing case that the key to understanding Stalin’s capacity for mass murder is \'hidden in plain sight: the politics and ideology of ruthless class war in defence of the revolution and the pursuit of communist utopia\' ... In an era of dictatorships whose legacy lingers to this day, Stalin was one of the most bookish of them all. Yet to be well-read is in itself no guarantee of a humane approach to politics and life.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)The themes of political fragility, social cleavages and pervasive militarism give an impressive depth and coherence to Hoyer’s tightly written narrative ... a book that has the merit of treating imperial Germany as an era on its own terms rather than as an inevitable prelude to the horrors of 1933-1945.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Mazower, a professor at Columbia University, sets himself the task not just of retelling the familiar story of the Greek fight for independence but of placing the event in the broader context of modern European history. His book unfolds as an engaging combination of fast-flowing narrative and insightful analysis ... Both sides committed atrocities in the war, and Mazower makes the perceptive point that some western European philhellenes who went to fight for the Greeks were shocked by episodes such as the slaughter in 1822 of Muslim civilians in Corinth. Yet it was the Ottoman massacre in 1821 of Greeks in Constantinople, and the public hanging of the city’s Greek Orthodox patriarch, that inflamed European opinion.
Janet M Hartley
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Hartley, emeritus professor of international history at the London School of Economics, has produced a study of the Volga that is as well-researched and accessible to general readers ... Hartley has a good eye for the significant detail.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)An authoritative account of the dictator’s reckless adventurism, John Gooch asks how far Italy’s total defeat should be ascribed to the Duce, how far to military commanders and how far to the state’s longer-term weaknesses. All three played their part. But Gooch, professor emeritus at the University of Leeds, touches on the heart of the matter when he writes that Mussolini was a poor military strategist, who gambled on aggression in no small part because of memories of Italy’s participation in the first world war ...The strength of Mussolini’s War is that it draws on a fuller range of official Italian military sources than most previous accounts. Gooch makes relatively light use of other material, such as soldiers’ diaries and letters and secret police reports on morale. But his narrative is lucid, his analysis is perfectly judged and the result is a thorough, readable account of a series of pointless wars that did Italy nothing but harm.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)In Time’s Monster ... Stanford University historian Priya Satia goes further and suggests that the historical discipline itself has evolved into \'an instrument of redemption for the victims of modern history\' ... Satia delivers volley after volley of ferocious attacks on \'the self-pitying liberal view of empire\' ... Satia’s book raises an important question about whether historians are prosecutors and history is a court in which judgments should be passed on accused individuals.
RaveThe Financial TimesThe most impressive achievement of Beaton’s book is the way that he captures the full dimensions of Greece’s recent troubles by setting them in the context of the two centuries since the 1821-32 war of national independence ... Beaton sheds light on recurrent patterns of political conflict, social change and economic upheaval to which most non-Greek policymakers and commentators during the 2010-18 debt crisis were too busy or — less forgivably — too ignorant to pay attention ... judicious, well-researched and commendably up-to-date — deserves to be the standard general history of modern Greece in English for years to come.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)...[a] shrewd, fast-paced survey ... Each chapter offers a potted history of its subject’s career, and adds value by concentrating on a feature that was common to all of them — the cult of personality ... Dikötter is especially interesting on the attitudes to dictators of ordinary hard-pressed citizens and gullible foreigners. The masses learn to put on an act and fake consent, he says ... Dikötter slips up, however when he lists inflation in Germany in the early 1930s as one cause of Hitler’s rise to power. The real problem was economic depression and deflation. Still, How to Be a Dictator is a timely book and enjoyable to read. It is strangely comforting to be reminded that many of the dictators in Dikötter’s book came to an ignominious end. But that is no excuse for underestimating the need to protect democracy today.
PositiveFinancial TimesThe book benefits from the authors’ astute analysis of the political and military contexts surrounding the Big Three’s messages. But its special value comes from the Russian archives, which the authors have carefully examined to piece together how Stalin drafted or edited the telegrams sent to his western allies ... What emerges is a picture of Stalin as a formidable strategist, in full command of the policy detail and making shrewd judgments about when to toughen and when to soften messages prepared for Churchill and FDR ... The Kremlin Letters provides fascinating evidence of how this larger-than-life trio did it [defeated Hitler].
PositiveFinancial Times... anecdotes sparkle like gems throughout Roberts’s book, an exhaustive but fluent text that draws on a wider range of sources than the typical Churchill biography, of which there have been more than 1,000 in the five decades since the great man’s death in 1965 ... Roberts clearly admires his subject, but his book is no hagiography. He details Churchill’s misjudgments and policy errors ... Roberts is surely right to conclude that Churchill’s flaws scarcely matter when weighed in the balance against his irreplaceable role in ensuring Britain’s survival, above all in 1940.
RaveFinancial TimesChernobyl: History of a Tragedy is a lucid account of how the Soviet mania for nuclear power combined with endemic shoddiness in the industrial sector and near-paranoid habits of state secrecy led to the 1986 disaster ... Plokhy concentrates on the political fallout of Chernobyl in Ukraine, leaving little space for Russia and Belarus. This is a pity, because the political repercussions in Russia were far-reaching, while Belarus was by far the hardest-hit republic in terms of radioactive damage. But these do not detract from what is the most comprehensive, convincing history of Chernobyl yet to appear in English.
RaveThe Financial TimesAs Paul Lendvai observes in Orban: [Hungary's] Strongman, his thoughtful, entertaining biography, Hungarian political scientists wrestle over how to define Mr Orban’s proudly illiberal regime ... The value of Lendvai’s book lies in his penetrating explanation of why Hungary’s post-1989 institutions have proved so vulnerable to Mr Orban’s assault.
PositiveThe Financial Times\"The Marshall Plan is elegant in style and impressive in insights. Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has an enviable gift for presenting complex economic and geopolitical issues in crisp, readable prose … He contends that, although the Americans held the purse strings and emphasised the need for western European economic integration, they did not dictate the specific paths to recovery charted in Britain, France and Italy … The 1948 communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet blockade of Berlin, followed by Nato’s creation, indicate that the Marshall Plan came with grave, perhaps unavoidable costs.\
RaveThe Financial Times[Moorehead] tells the story of the Rosselli brothers and their mother Amelia, a playwright, with sensitivity, erudition and balance ... Denis Mack Smith, the doyen of British historians of modern Italy, wrote in 1997 that Carlo Rosselli was Italy’s 'most famous antifascist martyr.' Moorehead’s book is a fine tribute to the Rossellis, and particularly to Carlo, who might have turned into one of Italy’s greatest 20th-century statesmen.
PositiveThe Financial TimesGerwarth demonstrates with an impressive concentration of detail that in central, eastern and south-eastern Europe the carnage of the first world war by no means came to an end, as it did for the British and French, in late 1918 ... Wisely, Gerwarth does not go so far as to lament the end of Europe’s land empires. But his book argues convincingly that 'the story of Europe in the years between 1917 and 1923 is crucial for understanding the cycles of violence that characterised the continent’s 20th century.'