We are please to announce that David Stone’s SOVIET UNION AT WAR 1941-1945 is now available in the US. David was kind enough to let us in on what prompted him to write this book and what we can expect from him in the future…
This came out of a conversation with Rupert Harding of Pen & Sword in the UK. We were kicking around ideas for books. There had been a number of good books on the military and operational history of the Eastern Front during World War II, but there was almost nothing that covered the Soviet home front—what the Soviet government and society had done and experienced during the war. Plenty of material existed, but it hadn’t been put together. Once we had that concept, it was a matter of getting the right authors signed on to the project.
The reading public in the West is fascinated by World War II, but generally knows only part of the story. What happened on the Eastern Front, the theater that really determined the outcome of the war, is simply not well understood. One book can’t change that, but I’d like to think that people who read our book will have a much better sense of how the Soviet war machine functioned, and how it was that the Soviet Union ended up winning the war.
What I like about the book is the range of expertise we were able to find. We’ve got the leading authority on the Soviet war economy, for example, talking about industry and how the Soviet economy functioned. Historians tend to work alone, but this is a nice way of bringing people together and tapping into a range of talents.
My next big project is a re-appraisal of Leon Trotsky’s role in the creation and development of the Red Army. Trotsky has been the beneficiary (or victim, depending on your point-of-view) of lots of interest in his career as a revolutionary. There’s been less attention to what specifically he did with the Red Army. Trotsky’s the man who shaped it as an institution more than anyone else, but what he did and why has been buried under decades of Stalinist misinformation that portrayed Trotsky as a traitor. Even Western scholars, who aren’t beholden to Stalin’s interpretation of events, have generally seen Trotsky as losing interest in the Red Army after the end of the Civil War in 1920. My evidence suggests that’s deeply mistaken—that Trotsky took an active role in shaping the peacetime Red Army in ways that persisted for decades after Trotsky himself had lost the competition for power in the Soviet Union. What’s more, Trotsky used the techniques he employed in the Red Army to shape Soviet society more generally. Trotsky’s legacy, at least in some sectors, lasts until the final collapse of the Soviet Union.
David Stone is a Professor of History, Faculty member of the Institute for Military Studies and 20th Century Studies, Kansas State University and holds a Ph.D in History from Yale University.