1st ed., 1981. 463 pp., e.p., maps. D.j., 24 x 16cm. FINE. Through a combination of luck, skill and atrocious ruthlessness, Stalin managed to survive a series of crisis that threatened to destroy his rule overnight. Yet the outside world was scarcely aware of their existence and his misjudgements were astonishing. Yet it was not long before most Russians were joined in a life-and-death struggle, apparently to save a regime hated as no regime has been hated in all history. How did this happen? Drawing on much new evidence, as well as an analysis of that which is already known but often overlooked, the author examines afresh the mainsprings of Soviet policy, both internal and external, in the dangerously critical years between 1938 and 1945. He seeks to explain how Stalin saw events and reacted to them, how Soviet policy was virtually Stalin's policy, and how stability at home became the first priority in all his calculations. The book closes with an examination of the failure of British and American diplomacy, outwitted by Stalin at almost every turn, and of Stalin's plan in the early 1950's to effect a military conquest of Western Europe. Startling new evidence is provided to show that unsuspected figures in key positions in Britain and the USA lent critical aid to Stalin.