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Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman - from World War to Cold War [Paperback]

Michael Dobbs
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Sep 2013

From the bestselling author of One Minute to Midnight, this is the riveting story of the last six months of World War II, when the hopeful Allied situation inspired by the Yalta Conference descended into the open conflict that would lead to the Cold War.

When FDR, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin gathered outside the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945, they had Hitler's armies on the run, and victory was just a matter of time. Their mission was to forge the decisions that would shape the postwar world, and above all to divide up Europe between Soviet and Western influence. These men had been fighting side by side for nearly four years but the cracks in their alliance were emerging; even before the Second World War ended, another conflict was beginning.

Six Months captures this turning point of the twentieth century, re-creating the steady breakdown in relations between powers. While the Berlin airlift and the Iron Curtain would not arrive for three years, by August 1945 the West and the Soviet Union were firmly on the path to a Cold War. Michael Dobbs brilliantly renders the personalities and geopolitics that drove this descent, illuminating the aims and frustrations of the key leaders. This is a vivid story of power, personalities, and national interests competing at a crucial moment in history.

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Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman - from World War to Cold War + One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (5 Sep 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 009957487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099574873
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"[Dobbs] has made extensive use of untapped archive material to reveal the secrets of the cloak-and-dagger operations behind the nuclear stand-off in the Caribbean . . . Excellent" (John Crossland Daily Mail)

"Dobbs' hour-by-hour overview is a worthy study of this much mythologised fortnight . . . Dobbs' chronological approach not only provides a natural sense of pace, but also allows him to illustrate the near-fatal time lag in communication between the two sides" (Time Out)

"Although Dobbs, like other historians, chooses to tell this story through the personalities of the four leaders, he nonetheless accepts that history sometimes follows an internal logic that is bewildering to those caught up in its contradictory currents but makes complete sense from a distance. (5 star review)" (Daily Express)

Book Description

FDR, Stalin, Churchill, Truman and the making of the modern world.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good look at what made post WW2 Europe 30 Oct 2012
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Author/historian Michael Dobbs has written "Six Months in 1945", the third volume in his Cold War trilogy. This book covers that historic six months period between the Yalta Conference to the end of WW2 in August, 1945. Beginning with the Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin at Yalta, and ending with first Winston Churchill and then Clement Atlee, Harry Truman, and Stalin at Potsdam, Dobbs fills in those five months between the two conferences, and the month following, which saw the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan and the unconditional surrender of Japan.

Dobbs does an excellent job in identifying the "major players" - Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, as well as their underlings and advisers. Not present, but certainly influential, was Adolf Hitler, who had begun the war in 1939. By February 1945, the Russians were pushing the German army westward from Russia back to Berlin, while in the west, the Allied troops were squeezing the German army eastward. Americans, British, and Soviet troops meant to meet up in Berlin and they did in March 1945. Michael Dobbs writes about their union in the bombed out city where the Russian troops - who had carried the fighting brunt against Germany - ran amok. And while the troops of the three allied countries met up on the battlefield, their leaders met to plan the post-war world. The "hot" war of WW2 evolved into the "cold" war of the next forty years. Stalin was certain of what HE wanted - control over the eastern European countries - Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the others which ended up behind Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtin".

Michael Dobbs handles the politics of personality when he looks at the participants at Yalta and Potsdam.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great narrative but weak analysis 26 Oct 2013
By F Henwood TOP 500 REVIEWER
Michael Dobbs gives a very readable account of the key months in 1945 in the formation of the Cold War, from Yalta in February 1945 to Potsdam in August 1945. In February, the three allies were resolute in their determination to annihilate Nazi Germany but six months later, they were at loggerheads, locked into a confrontation that was to last another 44 years. That we all know was the Cold War. How does Dobbs account for those crucial six months? He does so by relating the principal characters involved, FDR, Churchill, Stalin and Truman and the issues over which they were to fall out. These were: honouring pledges to hold free elections in Poland, differences over Germany's future, and ideological differences which magnified the apprehensions and misunderstandings each side had of each other. Both sides came away from the Yalta summit with very different understandings of what had actually been agreed - especially the definition of what `free elections' in Poland actually meant. Yalta was a fudge, putting off the big issues in the interests of maintaining the alliance to destroy Nazi Germany (this surely is understandable as the Nazis were aware in 1945 that their one and only hope of salvation was for the alliance against them to fall apart). This it did. But it stored up trouble once their mutual adversary had been vanquished.

Dobbs tells all this with great narrative skill - vivid portraits of the personalities involved, with a novelist's ability to evoke both character and place. His narrative skills are very engaging indeed - they are superb. His historical analysis is somewhat weaker. He notes at the end that neither side wanted a renewed confrontation. This is probably true. But despite these good intentions, all sides got one. How did they end up like this?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prelude for the division of Europe 1 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book painted a fascinating picture of the three main protagonists, the weakness of Roosevelt, the frustration of Churchill and the ruthless manipulation of an ailing president by Stalin
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading except for one awful error 2 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
From page 308 of the UK hardback edition of "Six Months in 1945" by Michael Dobbs, concerning the battle of Stalingrad,"...the epic scale of the fighting, involving millions of men, tens of thousands of tanks, and fleets of fighter jets." I do not believe there were "tens of thousands" of tanks at Stalingrad and am certain there were no fighter jets at all. A blunder like this is a flaw in an otherwise reasonably good book about a fascinating subject. Hopefully this will be corrected in the future paperback edition. Certainly worth reading, but overall not as good as the same author's book on the Cuban Missile Crisis "One Minute to Midnight".
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