Hitler came very close to winning the Second World War in June 1941. Despite obvious preparations, his invasion of Russia caught the Red Army by surprise and almost destroyed it in the first ten days. The catastrophe has often been laid at Stalin's door but the true story is only emerging now as secret Russian archives are opened at last. Since 1991 a wealth of hitherto secret Soviet material has become available: cables from Russian spies, Politburo documents, diaries of Stalin's generals and secret police - but they are all in Russian and have not been translated. Russian historian and novelist Constantine Pleshakov reveals what really happened in the critical first ten days of the greatest land campaign in history; how Stalin massacred his own officers to stay in power; when he planned to attack Germany; and who stepped in when he panicked and fled the Kremlin. From the torture chambers of Stalin's secret police to the inside story of the critical politburo decisions, and the key events at the frontline, this is a major new contribution to the history of the Second World War.
Constantine Pleshakov grew up in Russia during the 1960s, acutely conscious of how the war had affected both the people and landscape. Now an internationally acclaimed historian, he emigrated to the USA in 1998.