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Good look at what made post WW2 Europe
on 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.