The fruit of a unique British-Russian scholarly collaboration, this volume collects a majority of the messages Joseph Stalin exchanged with Allied leaders Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Second World War. Ranging from intimate personal greetings to weighty salvos about diplomacy and strategy, this book reveals the political machinations and human stories behind the Allied triumvirate.
Messrs. Reynolds and Pechatnov combine correspondence with incisive commentary to elucidate the good, bad and ugly of the grand alliance ... The Kremlin Letters provides fresh glimpses into the mind of Stalin and his apparatchiks during the war’s middle stages ... The Kremlin Letters paints a disturbing picture of an alliance of convenience that dissolved as victory neared ... Illuminating and insightful, The Kremlin Letters is an indispensable resource.
The 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].
While The Kremlin Letters contributes to the authoritative documentation of the war, I retain a significant reservation about its collaborative character. The editors pay tribute to the merit of a British scholar working together with his Russian peers to produce the volume. Yet morbid Russian sensitivity about the narrative of the Great Patriotic War makes it inevitable that the commentaries are less trenchant than one would normally expect of David Reynolds ... the correspondence opens no more ‘windows’ than most exchanges between national leaders. It merely provides a record—a very useful record—of what the participants considered it appropriate to say to one another at a critical period of modern history ... If any of these three men had said what they really thought, the Grand Alliance would barely have functioned for five minutes ... The fact that many realities about the war, as Western historians see them, are by law denied a hearing in Putin’s Russia imposes limitations on the explicitness of a scholarly co-operation such as this one ... Even so it is welcome that this book has been produced. The authoritative version of the message texts makes a significant contribution to the scholarship of the period. But it would be hard to claim that anything in these pages significantly alters our picture of the conflict, or of the relationship between the principals.