June 1941: Hitler and Stalin

June 1941: Hitler and Stalin: John Lukacs “Does anybody really need to read another book about Hitler or Stalin?” asks Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times.”If you think not, spend a few engrossingly profitable hours with John Lukacs’ new book, June 1941, and you’ll be reminded that the one thing history does not admit is a last word on anything.”

From the renowned best-selling author of Five Days in London, May 1940 comes this masterful history, June 1941: Hitler and Stalin, describing the unparalleled drama of the fateful days leading to Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Drawing upon newly available source material, Lukacs probes with penetrating insight the strange, calculating, and miscalculating relationship between Hitler and Stalin and offers a startlingly new portrait of the two great dictators, moved by their long-lasting inclinations.

“Leaders matter in such a story, and the implication of that insistence is but one of the things that make this book so urgently engrossing,” says Rutten in his review. Lukacs presents evidence that Hitler (rather than his generals) had moments of dark foreboding before the invasion, whereas Stalin could not, because he wished not, believe that Hitler would choose the risk of a two-front war by attacking him. When he did, Stalin was stunned and shocked and came close to a breakdown. But he recovered, grew into a statesman, and eventually became a prime victor of the Second World War. Such are the ironies of history, which John Lukacs paints with a shining narrative skill.

Listen to an interview with John Lukacs on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

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