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Stalin's Cold Warrior

Molotov by Geoffrey Roberts
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The orthodox view of Vyacheslav Molotov is that he was no more than Stalin’s faithful servant; a dogmatic conservative communist of little or no imagination. Molotov was, indeed, Stalin’s right-hand man while from the 1920s the two men presided over a brutal, authoritarian communist system that led to the deaths of millions of people. But their partnership was far more complex.

In this engaging biography, Geoffrey Roberts proposes a radical reappraisal of Molotov’s life and career. He argues that although as Soviet foreign minister from 1939 Molotov was indeed Stalin’s cold warrior, his personal preference was for détente and peaceful coexistence with the West. The differences and tensions between Molotov and Stalin came to a head in 1949 when Molotov’s wife was arrested and imprisoned because of her activities with the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Molotov refused to condemn her and was removed as foreign minister but was reappointed to the post after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Molotov renewed his efforts to curtail the Cold War and campaigned for the establishment of a pan-European system of collective security to halt polarization of the continent into competing military-political blocs. His attempts to negotiate an end to the Cold War were stymied by Soviet and Western hard-liners. Nevertheless his campaign for European collective security paved the way to the détente of the 1960s and 1970s and abolition of the Cold War in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1957 Molotov was ousted from the Soviet leadership following his attempted political coup against Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor as the leader of the Communist Party. He was expelled from the Party and ended his diplomatic career as ambassador to Mongolia and as Soviet representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Potomac Books; January 2012
254 pages; ISBN 9781612344294
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Title: Molotov
Author: Geoffrey Roberts