Born when the Tsars ruled the Russia Empire, Molotov died in the Gorbachev era. A revolutionary and active politician in Lenin’s time, Molotov became Stalin’s first lieutenant but outlived him by more than thirty years, and was prominent during Khrushchev’s rise to power. He was Stalin’s head of government during the economic transformation of the USSR and Great Terror of the 1930s. As foreign minister, he negotiated with Hitler and Ribbentrop before the Second World War, with Roosevelt, Churchill and Eden during the war, and with Truman, Attlee and Bevin at the end of and after the war. Yet, because he was disgraced and became a ‘non-person’ in the Khrushchev era, Soviet scholars did not write about him and the material was not available for Western historians to study Molotov. The only memoirs he left were the controversial One Hundred and Forty Conversations with Molotov, tape recorded interviews with the Stalinist poet Felix Chuev, made between 1969 and 1986 but not published until 1994. That reliable sources were not available and archives were not accessible are the main reasons why the present volume can claim to be the first major historical biography of Molotov.
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