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Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership

Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Roberts
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

To what extent did the outcome of the Second World War turn on the two very different personalities who led the two major combatant nations? This intriguing question is the subject of Andrew Roberts' Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership, published to tie in with the television series of the same name. Roberts, the author of the prize-winning Salisbury: Victorian Titan and, more recently, the highly acclaimed Napoleon and Wellington, sets out to identify the ingredients of successful leadership in peacetime and wartime.

The first half of the book takes us through the lives of the two men up to 1939, showing how both men had a strong sense of destiny and mission--indeed both put out a sort of mission statement (Churchill in his 1900 novel Savrola; Hitler in his Mein Kampf). Both men also had compelling powers of oratory and a carefully contrived political persona built around props (Churchill's cigar and homburg hat, Hitler's plain uniform), hideaway homes (Chartwell and the Berghof) and careful public relations. The second half of the book brings out their major differences during the war. Inevitably, Churchill's people-management skills and ability to listen to advice won out over Hitler's control-freakery and over-reliance on sycophants.

This is not one of Andrew Roberts' better books. It is not a particularly sophisticated analysis of the dynamics of leadership, and the story of the clash of these two titans has been told so often--most recently by John Lukacs--that there is not a lot more to be added. Roberts does provide some new information on Churchill's use of secret intelligence, but otherwise this is familiar fare--a tale certainly worth being told again, but perhaps not deserving the great puff on the dust jacket. --Miles Taylor


Publicity for this is still running with the final part in Andrew's series on Martin Luther King being shown on Friday night. Just to recap on what he has done so far: Andrew was on START THE WEEK (BBC Radio 4) on 10 February and was extremely good. A very good interview ran in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH on 9 February and he was on THE SUNDAY PROGRAMME (GMTV) on 9 February. The serial ran in the DAILY MAIL on Saturday 8, Monday 10 February and Tuesday 11 February. The book was one of the DAILY TELEGRAPH'S 'Books of the Moment' on 1 March.The television series has been excellent and has been getting a huge amount of reviews and previews. In the run-up to this Andrew has also been on RICHARD AND JUDY (C4), CHANNEL 5 NEWS, BBC 1, BBC RADIO WM, WILTSHIRE SOUND, BBC RADIO SHROPSHIRE, BBC RADIO LEICESTER, BBC RADIO BRISTOL, BBC RADIO WALES and BBC RADIO JERSEY. He has also been writing a number of articles and been interviewed on TV and radio about the war in Iraq Andrew hosted an extremely high profile launch party on 4 February, with Margaret Thatcher, Prince Michael ofKent, David Trimble, Jonathan Aitken, Jemima Khan plus many more celebritiesand politicians which generated diary stories in the EXPRESS, MAIL ON SUNDAY, DAILY TELEGRAPH, INDEPENDENT, DAILY MAIL and EVENING STANDARD The reviews that have come in so far have been excellent and Andrew is attending the Hay literary festival. He did an extremely good talk at Ottakars Putney on 5 Marchand Methvens in Windsor on 12 March, and is taking part in a Waterstone's debate on World War II on 29 April in London with Antony Beevor and Celia Sandys, which he will be plugging on LBC on 13 April. Andrew has written pieces for the current issues of LIVING HISTORY and BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE. The book hasbeen number 4 in the EVENING STANDARD bestseller list and number 8 in THE SUNDAY TIMES. Just to remind you of the reviews: 'His book is timely and a triumph'Michael Burleigh, THE EVENING STANDARD 'fascinating and thought provoking.'Antony Beevor, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'stimulating and highly readable.'Alan Judd, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'Andrew Roberts is much more literate and worldly than most historians... he has a great deal of fun too with the lunatic fringeof Churchill.... The best recommendation of this very entertaining and convincing book is that it is full, not just of funny and engaging stories very well told, but of some very startling illustrations.'Philip Hensher, THE SPECTATOR 'Roberts has accepted the challenge on the back of his forthcoming television series exploring the qualities of leadership that brought the two men face to face across the English Channel in 1940. The result is lively, thought-provoking, and hugely entertaining......No one reading Roberts could fail to understand why Churchill topped the recent poll as our greatest Britain.'Richard Overy, LITERARY REVIEW 'Roberts has much of interest to say about their (Hitler and Churchill's) contrasting styles... it is full of telling detail, often very wittily related.'Craig Brown, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 'this succinct andentertaining book'Simon Heffer, COUNTRY LIFE 'this fascinating book'THE IRISH NEWS 'Mr Roberts is a fluent writer with a sense of humour: his passages onHitler's anti-smoking and vegetarinaism are particularly funny.'THE ECONOMIST 'Roberts's engaging and imaginative study of Hitler and Churchill offers some fascinating comparisons and analysis.'Lawrence James, THE TIMES 'It (the book) is enthralling, informative, compelling and brilliantly written.'Eric Hester, THE CATHOLIC TIMES 'Supremely readable'Piers Brendon, THE OLDIE

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1335 KB
  • Print Length: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (25 Nov 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GHN2QC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #366,930 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders was one of the most acclaimed, bestselling history books of 2008. His previous books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999), which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction, Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership (2003), which coincided with four-part BBC2 history series. He is one of Britain's most prominent journalists and broadcasters.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comparative Biography 30 Oct 2012
Andrew Roberts considers the careers of Churchill and Hitler, surveying the historiography surrounding both men, making mincemeat of revisionist and Marxist historians who have sought to re-write history in their own image. As Roberts suggests the conflict between Churchill and Hitler established the framework within which the world now works. Both believed they had been chosen by Fate or Providence for great things. History implies Churchill was right, Hitler was wrong but that under-estimates the role each man had in determining his own destiny. Churchill was born to privilege 'that so often presages mediocrity' while Hitler was beset by 'every disadvantage necessary for success in life'. Politics was in Churchill's blood, Hitler came to politics almost accidentally.

Hitler convinced himself of his own historical role Churchill merely assumed it. What they shared were visions of the future. Each had 'an almost superhuman tenacity of purpose that they held on to throughout their long years of adversity and failure'. Both succeeded because they had influential friends to sustain them when they were in dire financial straits. They used religious sentiment when it suited them and neither can be described as practicing Christians. Churchill admired Jesus's courage in the face of death, Hitler refashioned Christ as a true Aryan while denying any connection between Aryanism and Christianity. Both were united in their opposition to Bolshevism although Hitler analysed it as a Jewish plot while Churchill considered it primarily as a political and philosophical phenomena.

Hitler set out to convince the German people he was, 'the man who did not belong to any class, to any caste, who is above all that. I have nothing but a connection to the German people.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How we won the war 13 Nov 2009
A slightly odd book, not based on massive original research, and not even that strong on the modern literature of leadership. Also it is Churchill-biased. But taken as a series of essays and interpretations, it is thoroughly interesting and entertaining. He is good on the revisionism which tries to de-bunk Churchill, on Churchill as a historian and his use of history in his rhetoric. There is one really powerful insight, into why people commit atrocities; not fear, not propaganda, not fanaticism, just the peer pressure of those around you. Exactly also why soldiers risk their lives; not for their commanders, or the nation, but for their mates and colleagues. This is an important insight, not just for historians; comradeship creates both heroes and devils. He is also excellent on the many reasons why Hitler's leadership deteriorated and Churchill's improved. This goes beyond his main verdict, that Hitler's charismatic leadership was inherently inferior to Churchill's inspirational leadership.

Particularly excellent is how Churchill in 1940 was the master of spin, controlling the narrative Alaistar Campbell-style, curiously inspiring the British people by telling them in masterly language how appalling it was going to be, what huge failures they would have to endure, and what a bloody awful, dire struggle we were in for. Curiously, it worked. Apparently, then, it's relentlessly positive spin we can't take.

His rather petulant paragraph decrying (the Marxist) Hobsawm's claim as our greatest living historian by listing other great (Tory) ones is amusing. And Kershaw's insight of "working towards the Fuhrer" has moved things along at bit since this was published. But this is a very good read. He has a good eye for the telling but less familiar Churchill quote; none better than this one on the Second World War: if we win, noone will care; if we lose, there'll be noone left to care. Wow.
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27 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 10 Jun 2003
An intruguing review of two of the world's most fascinating war leaders. Roberts makes valid points about the leaders and comes to a profound conclusion. The book is littered with evidence that's used to back up his argument, which he successfully puts forward, implying thorough research has gone into the book. I particularly liked this book due to the relevant and sometimes startling revelations that it makes. Roberts succeeds in making the book readable as well as not too simple. What the author has managed to do best is bring up very relevant points that have not been recognized to a great extent yet. The whole works is backed by hard evidence.
Overall a very revealing and thought-provoking book. Definitely a brilliant bit of work.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased, one-sided and thereby pointless. 10 Aug 2014
My title says is all. I very much enjoyed the introduction to this book, but it was clear after reading several pages of the first chapter exactly what I was in for. It's now becoming plain to me that if I want to read any objective synopsis of any aspect of WW2 I have to look for publications printed either before, during (caution needed due to propaganda), or immediately after the conflict.

I could not disagree more with some of the reviewers here, this book is Pro-Churchillian in the extreme.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars csasax 16 April 2013
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