Geoffrey Roberts

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Geoffrey Roberts
Born 1952 (age 65–66)
Deptford, London
Academic work
Main interests Soviet History
Notable works The Unholy Alliance: Stalin’s Pact with Hitler, The Soviet Union and the Origins of the Second World War, Stalin's General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov.

Geoffrey Roberts (born 1952) is a British historian[1] of the Second World War. He specializes in Soviet diplomatic and military history of the Second World War.[2] He is a professor of modern history at University College Cork in Ireland and was formerly head of the School of History at UCC.

Early career

Geoffrey Roberts was born in Deptford, south London in 1952. His father worked as a labourer at the local power station, while his mother worked as a cleaner and tea lady. A pupil of Addey and Stanhope Grammar School, he left aged 16 and started his working life as a clerk with the Greater London Council. In the 1970s, he was an International Relations undergraduate at North Staffordshire Polytechnic and postgraduate research student at the London School of Economics. In the 1980s, he worked in the Education Department of NALGO, the public sector trade union.

Published work

He returned to academic life in the 1990s following the publication of his acclaimed first book The Unholy Alliance: Stalin’s Pact with Hitler, 1989.
Many books and articles followed:


Roberts is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and teaches History and International Relations at University College Cork, Ireland. He has won many academic awards and prizes, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard University and a Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellowship. He is a regular commentator on history and current affairs for British and Irish newspapers and a contributor to the History News Service, which syndicates articles to American media outlets. He has many radio and TV appearances to his credit and has acted as an historical consultant for documentary series such as Simon Berthon’s highly praised Warlords, broadcast in 2005.


Roberts has come under criticism from Andrew Bacevich, who claims in a review in The National Interest that Roberts is overly sympathetic towards Stalin, taking the word of the Soviet leadership uncritically in his writings, thus presenting a biased view and significantly undermining the usefulness of his scholarship.[3] According to Jonathan Haslam, Roberts relies too heavily on edited Soviet archival documents and goes too far in his conclusions, therefore making his accounts somewhat one sided and by no means telling a full story.[4][5]

In an interview with George Mason University's History News Network, following the publication of Stalin's General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov, Roberts said:

The Soviet Union was responsible for some of the most epic achievements and most gross misdeeds of our age... I have no difficulty in joining the condemnation of the Soviet system's violence, terror and repression. But if you believe force and oppression were the only factors driving the Soviet Union then you will never understand why the USSR lasted so long and achieved so much, not least the victory over Hitler. If we don't acknowledge the roles of ideology and aspiration in creating political systems we will be ill-prepared to face the challenges of dynamic and powerful authoritarian politics in the future.[6]


  1. Biography, UCC
  2. Pechatnov, Vladimir (2008). Review of Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939–1953. Journal of Cold War Studies 10 (3), 179-181.
  3. Bacevich, Andrew J. (2007). Man of Steel, Re-forged
  4. Haslam, Jonathan (1997). Review: Soviet-German Relations and the Origins of the Second World War: The Jury Is Still Out The Journal of Modern History 69.4: 785-797.
  5. Haslam, Jonathan (2008). Review of Geoffrey Roberts, Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939–1953. The Journal of Modern History 80 (4), 968-970.
  6. "History News Network""Russia's Architect of Victory: Interview with Geoffrey Roberts on Georgy Zhukov". Retrieved 2012-09-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>