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Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman--from World War to Cold War
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Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman--from World War to Cold War

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  794 ratings  ·  81 reviews
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 atomic age, and the beginning of the Cold War.

When Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met in Yalta in February 1945, Hitler's armies were on the run, and victory was imminent.  The Big Three wanted to draft a bluepri
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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4.11  · 
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 ·  794 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Connie G
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author Michael Dobbs discusses the six month period in 1945 from the Yalta Conference to the Potsdam Conference to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It shows the personalities of the main negotiators, and the important issues for the Big Three countries of Russia, Great Britain, and the United States. In addition to the great loss of lives, the European countries were all devastated economically from the war. The postwar status of Poland and other Eastern European count ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ok. This was good. REALLY good. definitely deserved its 5 stars.

'Few historical turning points are as rich as in drama as the six months between february and august 1945, a period including the big three (Stalin,FDR,Churchill) conference in yalta and the bombing of Hiroshima. America and Russia emerged as the two most powerful nations in the world; Nazi Germany and imperial Japan were vanquished: the British empire teetered on the verge of collapse. A president died; a fuhrer committed suicid
Meg - A Bookish Affair
3.5 stars. As a history and politics lover, the end of World War II has always been very fascinating to me. So many of the institutions and policies that we find ourselves surrounded with today still have roots in what happened during WWII. If you need any proof, just look at how the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council are set up. Both are very much rooted in the outcomes of WWII. This is astounding to me. Talk about staying power!

As the title suggests, "Six Months in 1945" is about six
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Christmas gift
One of the most fascinating books I've read in a long, long time. Thanks to the declassification of thousands, if not millions, of documents from the WWII era, we now know what actually went on at Yalta. We also read the truth about the bomb, from the early days of discovering to the dropping on Japan. Truman is revealed as he never has been. He was instrumental in the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan, although he was also swepted away by an enormous machine that worked for its deve ...more
James Allan
Wow! What a read.

I love History, but sometimes Historians have a way of presenting facts in a rather, well - boring fashion.

Dobbs is the EXACT opposite. I felt like a fly in the wall during some of the most important events of the modern world.

It was especially neat to read about the Yalta conference - Having visited Crimea earlier this year it was fascinating to read about the different palaces, rooms and the events that took place there.

Would highly recommend!
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a detailed, and usually engaging, take on the end of WWII and the conflicts that lead to the cold war, focusing on Yalta, Pottsdam, etc. and the personalities involved.

The thing I took way most from this book was twofold: One, the constraints and still uncertain outcome of WWII drove the U.S.'s concerns far more than the USSR, who accepted victory as inevitable and was unconcerned with the lives of their soldiers or the enemy, and two, that personalities have a LOT to do with the eventu
James Hartley
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a good, clear, readable history of six months which changed the world.

That half-year saw the death of the old European idea that victors in a war had the right to put in place their own governments and ideas (as victors), something which had been taken for granted for hundreds of years. It saw the beginning of the Atomic Age; the end of Britains role in world affairs. It saw the USA become the main player on the world stage, with its self-designated role as a beacon of light and hope fo
Douglas Graney
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent book to end the summer!
FDR, Stalin, Churchill and Truman are on display at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences.
Want to be in the room with those guys? Get this.
The different perspectives they brought to the table reflect not just their personalities but what their nations experienced.
This is one of those books where I'm awed at the research and the authors writing skill.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This was well written and entertaining. My only problem is the nature of this brand of popular history (that looks at a very specific time, e.g. David McCullough's 1776). They must either end abruptly or leak over. Neither exactly works. All in all, though, worth the read.
Emmanuel Gustin
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history_wwii
This is a fascinating, highly readable history of the complex negotiations between the "Big Three" at the end of WWII and start of the Cold War. Our memory of 1945 is often a skeletal framework and a caricature; Michael Dobbs put some flesh back on the bones of history and does it best to correct post-war distortions. His ample citation from letters and documents written at the time creates a convincing impression.

The structure of the work is interesting, as we get to see history through a kind
Peter Mcloughlin
A pretty good look at the end of WWII and the begining of the Cold War from the view of the commanding heights of the big three allied powers. There are excellent portraits of Roosevelt, Truman, Stalin and Churchill. The power plays and deals made at Yalta and Potsdam figure prominently as well as the growing tensions of Americans and British towards the Soviets. The book talks about high level decisions that changed the world war into the cold war. A really good book.
João Cortez
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Yalta conference; the death of Roosevelt; the fall of Berlin, the suicide of Hitler, the surrender of Germany; the Potsdam conference; the first atomic bomb; the surrender of Japan and the beginning of the Cold War - all in six months! The history is well researched and well told. Highly fascinating and highly recommended.
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Stunning to think how quickly the world changed in one year...
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, group
I found it difficult to get into this book, due to a combination of unusually warm weather making it difficult to concentrate and the author's style. There is some interesting information in the book, but the long passages detailing bedroom accommodation and what everyone had to eat or drink at every meal sent me to sleep. Obviously the participants at the conference had to take breaks for meals, etc. and I'm sure Churchill would have been even more of a grouch and FDR would have been even more ...more
Dobbs does a fine job of sewing together a military/diplomatic history by using the tensions between the West and the Soviet Union as his thread. The book focuses on the relationships, behaviors, and outlook of the the main men involved while also using a military perspective as a mirror to reflect what their policies meant on the ground. Diplomacy is a fragile opera including the complexities of theater, threats, compliments, bluffs, lies, deceit, and strong wills.

A couple of particular points
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book provides an overview of the main events between the Yalta conference and the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. As a description of the negotiations at Potsdam, the book by Charles Mee (The Deal: Churchill, Truman, and Stalin Remake the World) is more detailed. The thesis of the Michael Dobbs is that the Cold War was to a large extent inevitable, given how the war was fought and victory achieved. But a missing point is that this peace also took a lesson from what happened after t ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the second book and part of the Cold War Trilogy by Dobbs I have read. In a similar vein to One Minute to Midnight, Six Months also center on the central political figures in his narrative of the end of WW2. It has meticulous minute details as to how the Yalta and Potsdam conferences went, which might not come in handy for those looking for historical analysis of the events. Instead, you end up learning what was on the menu in Potsdam than Stalin's slowly but steadily solidifying steps f ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a stellar book that brought details to the table and came back for seconds! Major diplomatic events of 1945 were told in rich details but in a way that has superb storytelling. One will walk away truly understanding the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences from all three Allied perspectives by getting inside the minds of FDR, Truman, Churchill, and Stalin.

In addition, the power vacuum of occupied Germany is another focal point that is magnified to showcase the coming Cold War tensions. This boo
Paul Vance
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional work.

Incredible to imagine the sheer depth of research undertaken and sources utilized, resulting in a very clear, coherent and compelling narrative.

The author adds descriptive colour throughout, helping provide perspective and the sense of atmosphere prevalent at both Yalta and Potsdam.

Makes me want to get my hands on the two other volumes of Michael Hobbs' Cold War trilogy.
Translator Monkey
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
'Six Months in 1945' was a ripping read, covering everything from Yalta to Hiroshima, and the chess game played by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Truman to keep Stalin and Molotov at arm's length. Poor Poland.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well researched book. It shows all the minor details which surround the Big Three: Stalin, Churchill and Roosvelt/Truman in the months Feb-Aug 1945.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really fascinating book, and I must say, now I understand how power whence in the hands of sickly old men, can be overly toxic.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Since the Maidan there's a pretty virulent nationalist effort in Russia to gloss over all the godawful things Josef Stalin did. The Purges, the Terror Famine, Katyn Forest--all of it is being discounted today or just erased from Russian history and society; Stalin, after all, oversaw the Golden Age of the Soviet Union. He broke the Nazi armies and pushed them back to Berlin (needlessly killing millions of his own soldiers in human wave attacks and imprisoning their families as unreliable element ...more
Neil Plotnick
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I stumbled onto this book while I was browsing the remainder shelves at the Harvard Book Store. It is an excellent exploration of the time marking the end of World War II and the unofficial start of the Cold War.

There are ample profiles of all the major world leaders and the supporting personalities that were involved in the Yalta Conference. It was fascinating to read about all the preparations that Stalin took to make sure he could dominate the proceedings and solidify his hold on Eastern Eur
Russell Wetherington
This book covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. The tumultuous end of the Second World War paved the way to the Cold War. The author, Michael Dobbs, does a great job of contrasting the personalities of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and incoming British Prime Minister Clement Attlee against the geopolitical forces in play in 1945. Often discussed elsewhere, the author vividly portrays the poor position the United States and the United Kingdom were in res ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent history book that covers the period from the Yalta conference to the Potsdam meeting. Full of eye-opening details yet able to extract and explain the big picture in terms of situation and objectives of each of the three big powers, and the dynamic effect of their combined actions on the smaller players. This is the period when the fates of Germany, Poland, Romania and the other states were decided through a combination of misunderstanding, misrepresentations and outright double-deal ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Slow to start but I got into it more as book went along. Lengthy and detailed. Listened as audiobook. Very insightful on end of war and the differences between the two superpowers that led to the Cold War.
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is exactly what the title says: it's just about these four men and their negotiations in the final six months of WWII. A few side characters get fleshed out as well, particularly Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's Minister of Foreign Affairs. The author imparts keen insight into Stalin's thought process and concern for Russia's future safety. I had not realized that FDR and Churchill allowed him to take over much of eastern Europe before finally attempting to draw the line at Poland. Churchi ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
1945 became the year when World War II ended. It also became the year when political players set the stage for the Cold War to begin, and when six short months fashioned the next forty years of history. The fall of the Third Reich; the rise of America and Russia; Hitler’s death; how would these events determine the course of the world scene? In his new work, trusted historian Michael Dobbs sets out to describe not only what happened during these events, but how they shaped the course of history ...more
Chris Walker
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An incredible story about a defining time in 20th Century history. Dobbs writes with verve and an eye for detail about the breakdown of the wartime alliance which tainted the Allied victory with the immediate rise of a new conflict that was to dominate the succeeding decades.
Some images of the period stick out: the terminally frail President Roosevelt labouring through the Yalta Conference, the pessimistic outlook of Churchill even as he received the news that Hitler's Germany was finally beate
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Michael Dobbs was, almost literally, a child of the Cold War. His diplomat parents whisked him off to Russia at the age of six weeks. As a child, he lived through the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the construction of the Berlin wall. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he witnessed the birth of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the hope and tragedy of Tiananmen Square, th ...more