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Customer Review

5 August 2001
This book gives us fascinating portraits of Lenin and Stalin, which refute all the vicious lies about them. It tells us much about international affairs, especially the Soviet Union's successful efforts to delay Hitler's treacherous attack in 1941, and on the period since Stalin's death in 1953. As he told Chuev, "I write about socialism - what it is and, as peasants say, 'what we need it for.'"
The book shows Stalin's great achievements: solving the nationalities question, industrialisation, the collectivisation of agriculture, the defeat of Hitler. Molotov points out that the Soviet Union created "industrialisation by our own means, by our own manpower. We could not rely on foreign loans." He sums up the successes of the 1920s and 1930s: "In essence we were largely ready for the war. The five-year plans, the industrial capacity we had created - that's what helped us to endure, otherwise we wouldn't have won out." As he said, "Many things have been done wonderfully, but that is not enough."
Molotov was "a fighter for communism, Lenin's longest surviving comrade-in-arms." He was born in 1890. In 1912 he helped to found Pravda. In 1917 he joined the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. In October 1917 he became a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee which prepared the armed uprising in Petrograd.
In 1926 he became a member of the Politburo, where he worked till 1952. From 1930, when he became Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, he helped to lead the drives for industrialisation and for collectivisation. He took a leading role in the fight to defeat the Fifth column. In May 1939 he was appointed Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
He was Deputy Chairman of the State Council of Defence throughout the Great Patriotic War (World War Two). In 1942 he signed the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance; he also secured Roosevelt and Churchill's agreement "To the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942." In 1943 he seconded Stalin at the Teheran Conference, and in 1945 he did the same at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. He represented the Soviet Union at the San Francisco Conference which founded the United Nations.
In 1957 the attempt to remove Krushchev was defeated and Molotov and the other Communists were expelled from the Central Committee. In 1962 he was expelled from the Party. In 1984 he was reinstated. He died in 1986.
Perhaps his epitaph should be what he said in 1976, "Properly speaking, what was Hitler's aggression? Wasn't it class struggle? It was. And the fact that atomic war may break out, isn't that class struggle? There is no alternative to class struggle. This is a very serious question. The be-all and end-all is not peaceful coexistence. After all, we have been holding on for some time, and under Stalin we held on to the point where the imperialists felt able to demand point-blank: either surrender such and such positions, or it means war. So far the imperialists haven't renounced that."
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3.8 out of 5 stars