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