'Grand Delusion' sets out to rewrite the history of the German invasion of Russia in 1941 in the light of archival material only recently available in Moscow. These vital new sources, which Gorodetsky has been the first to consult, include the archives of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the General Staff, the security forces and the entire range of military intelligence placed on Stalin's desk on the eve of 'Operation Barbarossa'. Gorodetsky challenges both the official Russian cult of the Great Patriotic Struggle and the equally sitorted Western version promulgated during the Cold War. He shows it was the revival of the classic struggle for mastery of Europe that ignited the titanic clash between Germany and Russia and rekindled the historic rivalry between Russia and Great Britain.
By examining the German onslaught in its broader geographical, military, strategic and political framework, Gorodetsky identifies vital clues to Stalin's enigmatic behaviour on the eve of the conflict: Stalin's policy, he argues was rational and level-headed, representing an unscrupulous Realpolitik serving well-defined geopolitical interests. Rather than a leader preparing for inevitable conflict, Stalin is portayed as eagerly anticipating peace. But the Russian leader's delusion of being able to dictate a new European order blinded him to the lurking German danger. Moreover his erroneous diagnosis of the political scene led him to misconstrue the evidence of his own intelligence service. Gorodetsky highlights the sequence of military blunders which resulted from Stalin's determination to appease Germany and which privide the key to understanding the calamity which befell Russia on 22 June 1941.