Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941
Pulitzer Prize finalist Stephen Kotkin continues his definitive biography of Stalin with a second volume, Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941, which covers collectivization and the Great Terror until the eve of the war with Hitler's Germany. Once Stalin had achieved dictatorial power over the Soviet empire, he began transforming Russia's vast peasant economy into a modern socialist one, using the most relentless campaign of shock industrialization the world had ever seen. This is the story of five-year plans, new factory towns and the integration of a huge system of penal labor into the larger economy.
With the Great Depression throwing global capitalism into crisis, the New Soviet man looked like the man of the future. But as the shadows of the 1930s deepened, Stalin's urgent transformations challenged the ambitions of Nazi Germany, and Hitler declared that communism was simply a global Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy to bring the Slavic race to power. Stalin's paranoia wreaked havoc on Soviet life and severely weakened its military leadership, diplomatic corps and intelligence apparatus. His 1939 pact with Hitler left the Soviet Union further unprepared for World War II. Still, in just 12 years of power, Stalin had taken his country from a peasant economy to a formidable modern war machine. This eventually proved crucial in stopping Hitler from achieving his goals.