Literature Review – Stalin

Length: 2-3 pages (500-750 words) double-spaced.

Identify a topic of interest that fits into the broad parameters of this course. Consider the various themes and regions that we have or will cover this semester. Ideally, you will will choose an idea or region of the world that you would like to know more about.

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1. describe work and topic. WHAT IS THE AUTHOR’S ARGUMENT???? (very important to state the argument)
2. describe work itself. Why did the author choose this topic? Who is the audience? What sources does she use? What arguments does she make? Is the book more analytical or narrative? What are her goals for writing this?
3. did she achieve those goals? Were those goals appropriate to begin with?
4. what constructive lesson can you provide?

How did the author write this book? What sources did she use? Only primary sources, only secondary, or a mixture? Is there one source that provided most of her material? Who are the people in the book–is it only about rich white men, or are other groups” stories told as well?

What is the author’s argument, and am I persuaded? If so, what evidence is particularly persuasive? If not, what evidence does not fit? Or what would it take for me to believe the author’s point?

What does the author care about? What are some of the key terms she uses again and again? What terms does she use for controversial ideas and events?

How did the author write this book? What sources did she use? Only primary sources, only secondary, or a mixture? Is there one source that provided most of her material? Who are the people in the book–is it only about rich white men, or are other groups” stories told as well?

What do I think of this book? What is missing from the book–what would I like to know more about? What is surprising? What is funny? What made me angry?

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book summary

Was the division of Europe after World War II inevitable? In this powerful reassessment of the postwar order in Europe, Norman Naimark suggests that Joseph Stalin was far more open to a settlement on the continent than we have thought. Through revealing case studies from Poland and Yugoslavia to Denmark and Albania, Naimark recasts the early Cold War by focusing on Europeans’ fight to determine their future.

As nations devastated by war began rebuilding, Soviet intentions loomed large. Stalin’s armies controlled most of the eastern half of the continent, and in France and Italy, communist parties were serious political forces. Yet Naimark reveals a surprisingly flexible Stalin, who initially had no intention of dividing Europe. During a window of opportunity from 1945 to 1948, leaders across the political spectrum, including Juho Kusti Paasikivi of Finland, Wladyslaw Gomulka of Poland, and Karl Renner of Austria, pushed back against outside pressures. For some, this meant struggling against Soviet dominance. For others, it meant enlisting the Americans to support their aims.

The first frost of Cold War could be felt in the tense patrolling of zones of occupation in Germany, but not until 1948, with the coup in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Blockade, did the familiar polarization set in. The split did not become irreversible until the formal division of Germany and establishment of NATO in 1949. In illuminating how European leaders deftly managed national interests in the face of dominating powers, Stalin and the Fate of Europe reveals the real potential of an alternative trajectory for the continent.

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