Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov
Geoffrey Roberts

Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov

Widely regarded as the best all-around general of World War II, the Soviet military legend Marshal Georgy Zhukov at last gets the full-scale biographical treatment he has long deserved, courtesy of historian Geoffrey Roberts’ sweeping, magisterial Stalin’s General.

A man of indomitable will and fierce determination to succeed, Zhukov was the Soviet Union’s indispensable commander through every one of the critical turning points of World War II. It was Zhukov who saved Leningrad from capture by the Wehrmacht in September of 1941; Zhukov who led the defense of Moscow in October of 1941; and Zhukov who spearheaded the Red Army’s march on Berlin and formally accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender in the spring of 1945. Drawing on the latest research from recently opened Soviet archives, including the uncensored versions of Zhukov’s own memoirs, Roberts offers us a penetrating, evenhanded portrait of a man whose tactical brilliance was matched only by the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which he pursued his battlefield objectives.

After the war, Zhukov was a key player on the geopolitical scene. As Defense Minister, he was one of the architects of Soviet military strategy during the Cold War. While lauded in the West as a folk hero—he was the only Soviet general ever to appear on the cover of Time magazine—Zhukov repeatedly ran afoul of the Communist political authorities. Wrongfully accused of disloyalty, he was twice banished and erased from history— left out of books and paintings depicting Soviet World War II victories. Roberts traces the origin of each of these intrigues, often rooted in personality clashes or rivalries with fellow generals, and assesses the toll they took on Zhukov the man. Piercing through the hyperbole of the Zhukov personality cult, he debunks many of the myths that have sprung up around Zhukov’s life and career to deliver fresh insights into the marshal’s relationships with Stalin, Khrushchev, and Eisenhower.

A remarkably intimate biography of a man whose life was lived behind an Iron Curtain of official secrecy, Stalin’s General is a full, fair, and authoritative biography that restores Zhukov to his rightful place in the twentieth-century military pantheon.

Book Details:

  • Author: Geoffrey Roberts
  • Published Year: 2010
  • Rights Sold
    • US: Random House
    • Russia: AST
    • Estonia: Tanapaev
    • Poland: Znak
    • Sweden: Historiska Media
    • UK: Icon
    • China: Social Sciences Academic Press
    • Finland: Tammi
    • Japan: Hakusuisha
    • Brazil: Globo
    • Germany: Bebug
    • Turkey: Kalkedon
    • Romania: Corint
Geoffrey Roberts

Geoffrey Roberts

Geoffrey Roberts is Emeritus Professor of History at University College Cork and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. A leading Soviet history expert, his many books include an award-winning biography of Zhukov, Stalin’s General and the acclaimed Stalin’s Wars:From World to Cold War.
More about Geoffrey Roberts

Book Reviews

  • "A welcome new biography of the ruthless Red Army general who defeated the Nazis and then spent decades alternately disgraced and rehabilitated in Soviet Russia.... . Zhukov’s relationship with Stalin emerges as a key, fascinating aspect to the story... A solid, engaging life."
  • "Roberts makes the only English-language Zhukov biography a WWII essential."
  • "  With maps of the action, unpublished photos, and unprecedented access to historical documents, Roberts reveals the story of Russia’s ruthless general and his subsequent fall from grace as he faced obliteration by the Soviet government he fought tirelessly to preserve. "
    Daily Beast
  • "Likely to stand for some time as the most comprehensive biography of Zhukov."
    Washington Post
  • "To tell the General's tale Geoffrey Roberts wades through sources that are often contradictory. Accusations of enormous cruelties, mythological feats of heroism, and requisite romantic entanglements are woven through every aspect of Zhukov's life...Roberts takes his task seriously and with a biographer's modesty perfectly suited to his subject's largeness. In broad, clear language aimed at history fans of all stripes, he fill pages with detailed information on the military and political aspects of the Red Army...Zhukov's personality is revealed through a play-by-play account of Stalin's war with Hitler's Germany, thus offering a portrait of Stalin as well."
  • "this meticulously researched new biography...."
    The Weekly Standard
  • "Geoffrey Roberts very convincingly puts forth Georgy Zhukov, Stalin's deputy supreme commander, as "the best all-around general of the Second World War".... Now we have the full story of Zhukov's storied and stormy career."
    Washington Times
  • "Roberts, who has studied and written on the Soviet experience in World War II for decades, shows his comfort with the material in his absolute control over a complex narrative... This is a fine biography, wrapped well into the broader context of Zhukov’s war and the Soviet system he served so loyally. The general reader can come away with a clear understanding of Zhukov’s character and operating style.... Geoffrey Roberts has accomplished his aim, with a readable, sound, balanced portrait of a fascinating man operating on a vast scale.  "
    Washington Independent Review of Books
  • "Roberts does a good job of illuminating key incidents, using Stalin’s appointment diaries and a few of Zhukov’s unused notes. This biography is soundly sensible in judgement..."
    Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard
  • "There’s no doubt that the man who comes through, bluff disciplinarian though he may have been, was undoubtedly the right man in the right place at the right time to make a substantial difference to the Soviet war effort, and thus to the whole fate of World War II. Recommended reading."
  • "  Roberts’ book gives us a true appreciation of Russian generalship during the war... "
    Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine
  • "  ...the most comprehensive biography of Zhukov in English, which chronicles not only the marshal’s well-known military feats but also, and very importantly, the military and political intrigues and infighting that went on behind the scenes as the USSR fought, firstly for its survival and finally for total victory against what had once appeared to be Germany’s unbeatable military machine... Roberts’s biography contains an abundance of new material. It is an informative, accessible and academically rigorous work the publication of which fittingly marks the 70th anniversary of Stalingrad"
    Irish Times
  • "He demonstrates a deep understanding of the Soviet system...Roberts excels in his treatment of the postwar period...a skilfully written account of an extraordinary man living in extraordinary times."
    BBC History Magazine
  • "  Coming after Geoffrey Robert's recent book Molotov: Stalin's Cold Warrior, Roberts has written what the Washington Post claims is "the most comprehensive biography" of the famous Soviet general Georgy Zhukov.A first-class book for all students of Soviet history, this includes a timeline at the beginning covering most years of Zhukov's life.With the opening up of Russian archives, there is now more independent documentary evidence available to the researcher, as this study shows... Professor Roberts has researched his subject well, using new material, and has produced an outstanding biography of one of the most famous generals in history. "
    Morning Star
  • " objective and very readable assessment of Zhukov’s contribution to the Allied war effort.... Roberts’s research has been meticulous and he makes a convincing case for Zhukov.... This book is an example of high quality biography. It is meticulously researched and objective in its judgments. It is an important contribution to understanding the Soviet psychology as well as the history of the Second World War. "
  • "  ...this fine new biography...well-written and meticulously researched... "
    Richard Overy, Literary Review
  • "  confident and detailed."
    Financial Times
  • "    Geoffrey Roberts, who is considered one of the best military historians of our time, has produced an extraordinary book about the Russian general whose great victories in the Nazi-Soviet War were unsurpassed in the twentieth-century. His book, Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov, is not only scrupulous but its fourteen highly readable and compressed chapters give readers many more fascinating details about Zhukov’s military and private life than previous biographies.... his exemplary biography ."
    Politics First
  • "...makes good use of newly discovered documents in the Soviet archives."
    Richard Evans, New York Review of Books
  • "thoroughly researched and well-written book, which will give pleasure not only to his fellow specialists and Second World War enthusiasts but also to a wide circle of readers. "
    History Today
  • "this excellent biography… this biography meets the high standards set by Roberts’s previous work, giving readers a carefully-researched yet readable analysis of complex events.  As he evidently intended, the book should be both interesting to general readers and a useful reference for specialists."
    Journal of Military History
  • "Geoffrey Roberts has studied the source material from the relatively recently opened Russian military archives, including uncensored versions of Zjukovs own memoirs and from this produced a comprehensive history and a credible and vivid portrait of a truly mysterious man. ... The book is also a necessary counterweight to the propaganda "documentary" on the History Channel and Discovery trying to make people believe that it was America, and to some extent England, who defeated Nazism. Roberts clearly show that it was Zhukov and not Eisenhower or Montgomery who paved the way for the victory against the Axis Powers troops. "
    Dast Magazine
  • "Stalin's General is a well written and engrossing biography  ."
    Boras Tidning
  • "a vivid and intimate portrait of the Second World War, chief commander."
  • "  Geoffrey Roberts judiciously picks his way through the thicket of controversy, while drawing a distinctive portrait of the successive stages of a glittering career ...Thoroughly researched and well-written book, which will give pleasure not only to his fellow-specialists and Second World War enthusiasts but also to a wide circle of readers. "
    Paul Dukes, History Today
  • "The life of Georgy Zhukov, who played an important role in the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk, is brilliantly told in Geoffrey Roberts' Stalin's General."
  • "His book is worth particular attention...for its fascinating interweaving of public and private events and for the light it sheds on the changing patterns and possibilities of life among the Soviet elite."
    London Review of Books
  • "British historian Roberts has poured over Zhukov's personal papers, his unexpurgated memoirs and recent Russian scholarship to write a definitive account of an impressive if only intermittently sympathetic commander."
    Military History magazine
  • "  For students of military history, this is an essential....At the same time, this account is so well written that it is accessible to almost all readers with even a slight interest in history."
    Journal of Slavic Military Studies
  • "Geoffrey Roberts' well-researched biography of the most decorated general in Soviet history shows Zhukov's prowess on the battlefield was not matched by his political acumen.."
    Sunday Business Post
  • "In this comprehensive biographyGeoffrey Roberts draws on newly available archival material and private papers to piece together Zhukov's remarkable story. "
  • "  Geoffrey Roberts has produced the definitive study of the greatest of...extraordinary commanders. The author gives the reader not only a clearly written blow by blow account of Zhukov's remarkable career and his string of victories from Khalkin-Gol against the Japanese in August 1939 through to his final victory in Berlin in  May 1945, but also paints a picture of the real man."
    Guards Magazine
  • "Stalin's General vividly chronicles Zhukov's remarkable trajectory through wars and purges, his career moves and family relations, from the fall of the tsarist Russian Empire to the dawn of nuclear warfare. Roberts draws on personal correspondence in newly opened archives and interviews with family members to illuminate the flesh-and-blood man behind the myth. He paints an extraordinary portrait….Roberts's expert analyses of Zhukov's personal and professional achievements and failures will make compelling reading for both a general audience and military specialists. He succeeds in humanizing the man with details of his whole life story, from his service as a young NCO during the bloody birth of the Soviet Union, to his family ties, personal relationship with Stalin, and preservation of his reputation against the attacks of bitter rivals after the war. Stalin's General is a welcome, comprehensive, sober introduction to an important, often mythologized historical figure."
    Michigan War Studies Review: