Six Months in 1945

  • by Michael Dobbs
  • Narrated by Bob Walter
  • 16 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the author of the best-selling One Minute to Midnight, a riveting account of the pivotal six-month period spanning the end of World War II, the dawn of the nuclear age, and the beginning of the Cold War.
When Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met in Yalta in February 1945, Hitler's armies were on the run and victory was imminent. The Big Three wanted to draft a blueprint for a lasting peace - but instead set the stage for a 44-year division of Europe into Soviet and western spheres of influence.
After fighting side by side for nearly four years, their political alliance was rapidly fracturing. By the time the leaders met again in Potsdam in July 1945, Russians and Americans were squabbling over the future of Germany and Churchill was warning about an "iron curtain" being drawn down over the Continent.
These six months witnessed some of the most dramatic moments of the 20th century: the cataclysmic battle for Berlin, the death of Franklin Roosevelt, the discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, Churchill's electoral defeat, and the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan. While their armies linked up in the heart of Europe, the political leaders maneuvered for leverage: Stalin using his nation's wartime sacrifices to claim spoils, Churchill doing his best to halt Britain's waning influence, FDR trying to charm Stalin, Truman determined to stand up to an increasingly assertive Soviet superpower.
Six Months in 1945 brilliantly captures this momentous historical turning point, chronicling the geopolitical twists behind the descent of the iron curtain, while illuminating the aims and personalities of larger-than-life political giants. It is a vividly rendered story of individual and national interests in fierce competition at a seminal moment in history.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Totally Outstanding. Bravo !

This is only the 2nd book Ive given 5 stars to. The author and narrator grab your attention from the opening paragraph and hold it to the very end. Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Truman literally come to life with each paragraph. You can almost see them as Bob Walter reads this brilliant work. You are transported back to 1945 and you are witnessing these giants of history formulate the next 50 years of anglo-russian relations. The cold war is born and you are there to witness it.

I have only 2 minor complaints. The first one is the humanization of Joseph Stalin. For a man that killed more people then Hitler, Stalin is not portrayed in this negative light. The book describes how Stalin sought German reparations to aid in the rebuilding of his country but fails to acknowledge how Stalin caused a lot of this suffering himself. I.E. the great hunger in Ukraine

Second is the SLIGHT drop in audio quality during the last hour.

These 2 reasons do nothing to detract from the overall appeal of this book.

Buy it
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- Alan

Very Insightful and Even-Handed

This book was fantastic. It is a look into not simply the events at the end of the Second World War, but a real insight into the major players - Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, Truman. I felt almost like it was fiction at times because the author made their personalities so real. Their interactions, their feelings, their flaws, and their motivations are so clear that you feel like you are actually there, listening to them talk at Yalta or at Potsdam. As someone who was not even old enough to be in kindergarten when the Berlin Wall fell, this book was a major insight into what caused that turmoil and misery that was to last almost 45 years. The big decisions, the most influential people, and the events that exacerbated it all - the atomic bomb, the division of Berlin, the Iron Curtain, the looting of Germany, and the argumentative beginnings of the United Nations - this book discusses all of it. I have read a lot about the Second World War, but I didn't know very much about the Cold War when I started this book. Now I feel like I really understand what happened to create such a tense environment for so long.

I've read a lot of history, and the insight and depth of this book makes it one of the best ones I've ever found. It was fascinating to get such a variety of points of view that made my understanding of the people in this time complex and human. (However, this doesn't mean that the person you see is likeable - Stalin's own daughter describes him several times as cold and unfeeling.) I also appreciated that it didn't deify the American presidents in the way American history books sometimes do, especially when a president dies in office. Roosevelt comes across as a little naive and too unwell to make a stand (a little like Woodrow Wilson does in Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, though this book was much more forgiving of Roosevelt's flaws than Paris 1919 was of Wilson's), and Truman as inexperienced and not particularly interested in reducing tensions with the Soviet Union. Churchill is left out a little, which as someone who finds him fascinating I was a little annoyed about, but it is symbolic of the decline of Britain as a world power at the end of the war. When he is discussed, however, he is also very human - frustrated by being ignored by Stalin and the Americans, well-spoken, depressed, and to some extent out of touch due to his imperialist leanings. The book also doesn't shy away from describing the atrocities of the Red Army in Germany and the ethnic cleansing that followed the movement of Poland's border to the west. The suffering of the Germans, especially in Berlin, is clearly devastating.

I thought the narration was good. I am very picky about mispronounced words, though, and there were a couple of those, so I can't give it five stars.

Overall, I felt totally immersed in this book. I highly recommend it - it is engaging and accessible to many readers, though prior understanding of the Second World War is necessary, as the reader is expected to already know what happened militarily in 1945 for context. I feel like I now have a really clear insight into the people and the decisions that created the Cold War and all of its continuing effects on the world.
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- Carolyn "I am a bilingual high school teacher. I mostly read non-fiction, especially history, but I am also a sucker for science-fiction and fantasy novels."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-16-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio