Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945-1953

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9780195165814: Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945-1953

Following his country's victory over Nazi Germany, Joseph Stalin was widely hailed as a great wartime leader and international statesman. Unchallenged on the domestic front, he headed one of the most powerful nations in the world. Yet, in the period from the end of World War II until his death, Stalin remained a man possessed by his fears. In order to reinforce his despotic rule in the face of old age and uncertain health, he habitually humiliated and terrorized members of his inner circle. He had their telephones bugged and even forced his deputy, Viacheslav Molotov, to betray his own spouse as a token of his allegiance.
Often dismissed as paranoid and irrational, Stalin's behavior followed a clear political logic, contend Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk. Stalin's consistent and overriding goal after the war was to consolidate the Soviet Union's status as a superpower and, in the face of growing decrepitude, to maintain his own hold as leader of that power. To that end, he fashioned a system of leadership that was at once patrimonial-repressive and quite modern. While maintaining informal relations based on personal loyalty at the apex of the system, in the postwar period Stalin also vested authority in committees, elevated younger specialists, and initiated key institutional innovations with lasting consequences.
Close scrutiny of Stalin's relationships with his most intimate colleagues also shows how, in the teeth of periodic persecution, Stalin's deputies cultivated informal norms and mutual understandings which provided the foundations for collective rule after his death. Based on newly released archival documents, including personal correspondence, drafts of Central Committee paperwork, new memoirs, and interviews with former functionaries and the families of Politburo members, this book will appeal to all those interested in Soviet history, political history, and the lives of dictators.

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About the Author:


Yoram Gorlizki teaches Russian politics and history at the University of Manchester, where he is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government, and Oleg Khlevniuk is a Senior Research Fellow at the State Archive of the Russian Federation.

Review:


"An important and finely crafted book. No other scholars have been able to reconstruct the administrative and political history of the Soviet Union in the postwar period with the veracity, clarity, and mastery of sources thay Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevnick evince." --Journal of Modern History


"A highly valuable book. It adds significantly to our understanding of Stalinist dictatorship, presents new evidence for what happened in the Soviet Union, and analyzes it insightfully."--H-Net


"the most detailed account to date of Soviet hgih politics in the post-war Stalinist years. The analysis and revelations in this book are absolutely first-rate."--Choice


"Cold Peace is a masterful analysis of high politics around Stalin in the least known period of his autocracy. Dark, grim, subtle, crackling with the electricity of Stalin's seething personality and constant manouvering, this brilliant book delivers readable narrative history, superb archival research and a splendid analysis of that terrifying character: it destroys myths with the same facility that it unveils new fascinations.... as important and magisterial for the postwar period as the classic historical works of the Revolution and Terror."--The Spectator


"Using previously unavailable archives, Gorlizki and Khlevniuk have reconstructed the inner workings of the top Soviet leadership in the declining years of Stalin's brutal reign. They take us into the inner sanctum of the Kremlin and weave for us an intricate tapestry of cold calculation and intrigue, jockeying for influence and caprice, with Stalin squarely in the center and in control. Rather than simply the tale of degenerating dictatorship, the years after World War II were marked by consolidation of the institutions and habits of authoritarianism."--Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago


"Cold Peace is magisterially researched, clearly written, and makes an important contribution to our knowledge of Stalin's last eight years. A fascinating description of how Stalin systematically humiliated and persecuted precisely those on whom he was most dependent."--Abbott Gleason, author of Totalitarianism


"A tour de force by Russia's most distinguished historian of Soviet politics and an outstanding young British scholar, based on voluminous new archival material, clearly presented and judiciously analyzed. All scholars and students of Soviet history need to buy this book, which for the first time gives us a reliable, detailed account of the internal politics of the late Stalin period in highly readable form. Indispensable for understanding both Stalin's role and personal power and the surprisingly sophisticated mechanisms that functioned routinely without his direct intervention."--Sheila Fitzpatrick, author of Everyday Stalinism


"...a most readable, original, and stimulating study."--Christopher Read, University of Warwick


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