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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 October 2012
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. He writes the biographies of the four major leaders - Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Truman and gives the reader a great look at what made them "tick". He examines the various alliances between the four men who decided the post-WW2 world. Dobbs has written an excellent book which will be eagerly read by the arm-chair historians. Oh, and the book has excellent pictures and maps.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2014
easy to read pop history. generally it's fascinating and hugely enjoyable - all the old cliches about the truth is stranger than fiction apply here. occasionally there seems to be a bit too mich of an effort to inject 'thrill' into the duller aspects of the story. but that's a quibble. yiouy could see any number of dramas being made form these characters and these events
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on 9 September 2013
This is a very detailed account of the interaction between the leaders of the USA, the USSR and the UK at the end of the second world war, and by using a more journalistic style it's highly readable. This does, however, bring some niggles with it.

By adopting a chatty style (with some painfully forced metaphors) it's not always easy to distinguish fact from fluff. The book contains endnotes instead of footnotes, and they are usually not directly associated with each statement on the page. When the author states that "the sun streamed through the window" or "Churchill's first thought was" without any attribution, are we supposed to assume this is fact or that it's fluff to make the book more readable? In these cases it probably doesn't matter, but without any clarity about where the facts end and the fancy begins, it's not always easy to trust what is being written.

It's an interesting read, but somewhat unsatisfying when one feels at the end that one would need to do some more fact-checking just to be sure ...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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? He attributes this to ideology: each side interpreted the actions of the other through ideological blinkers. These made conflicts of interest - like whether Germany should be revived or kept prostrate - impossible to resolve. Both sides had universal ideologies, the universal application of which would be for the benefit of all humanity.

Dobbs seems to content to draw symmetry in the ideological predictions of both sides in pursuit of even-handedness. But this historical analysis is weak. His analysis hints at the deeper reason for the intractability of the conflict, even if he does expand on it. He notes Stalin's inveterate suspiciousness and the nature of Marxist-Leninist doctrine, which taught that no matter how well-intentioned individual capitalists were, like FDR, the two systems were incompatible at a systemic level. There had to a showdown sometime. This was not what FDR or Truman thought but Stalin did. The logical implication of Stalin's world view is obvious: the Soviet Union could only be truly secure in a world in which capitalism had ceased to exist. Security for the Soviet Union could only be obtained at someone else's expense. Therefore, expansionism in the quest for security was hard-wired into the Stalinist system. What does come across in this book is how clear-eyed Stalin was in pursuit of what he thought was his country's interest, and how muddled FDR and Churchill were in pursuit of theirs.

Later the Soviets were to relent and proclaim `peaceful coexistence' but this was never a phrase Stalin would have uttered, as he would never have believed it possible. This being the case, nothing the Americans could have said or done in 1945, save pulling out of Europe altogether in 1945, would have assuaged Stalin. Both sides had universal ideological pretensions and the Americans were not blameless. But one side's view of the world that was far less tolerant of opposition, and of alternative understandings of the world. Stalin was a man after all who would murder Communists if he thought that they had any objective reason to betray him. It didn't matter if there was no evidence of betrayal. It was enough that they might conceivably betray him. And `capitalists' of course could do nothing else but betray him. They could not do any different, even if they tried.

Dobbs seems prefers to treat the beginnings of the Cold War as all a terrible misunderstanding. No it was not. It was, in large part, the logical outcome of Stalin's system and his ideology. Of the four leaders in 1945, FDR was the most prone to wishful thinking, especially in relation to Stalin and the system he constructed. Dobbs shares FDR's flaws in this respect.
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on 7 January 2015
Michael Dobbs is a brilliant writer I couldn't put this book down
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on 22 December 2014
Just what was needed for my son's A level history course
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2013
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2014
This book is in very good nick for a second hand book. It arrived in very good time.
Very pleased.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2015
I am satisfied
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