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The Life of Neville Chamberlain Hardcover – 1946

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan & Co. ltd.; First edition (1946)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007ITMHM
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 15 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,038,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By brian rowley on 2 Jun. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
an excellent book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Tragedy 3 Feb. 2011
By Mike B - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A study in tragedy. Here was a man who was honest and noble and expected the same from others. It must be said that he was oblivious to the evil of others and that he had several character flaws.

He was a Victorian gentleman. Neville Chamberlain had trouble seeing outside his own prism of the world. After all, his life was rather circumscribed; he inherited a business and slowly worked himself into politics. It is true that he spent formative years in the Bahamas, but this - as the author describes - was a solitary venture and did not provide proximity with a diversity of human beings. When he reached national government he became involved in financial matters. In other words Neville Chamberlain did not have dealings with the sordid underworld of politics and more particularly, international politics. He was a rationalist accountant. He was ill-equipped as a human being to deal with the likes of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin - the ultra and hateful nationalist politics of Europe.

In contrast Churchill's career was far more international - he travelled and lived in North America, Africa (the Sudan and South Africa) and India. He had a far greater background of all types of human behaviour - the highs and lows of man and woman. He had experienced first-hand the tragedy of Gallipoli. Churchill was also, for a short period, in the trenches of World War I.

Keith Feiling is, I feel, too much in admiration of Neville Chamberlain, but to his credit the tragic flaws of this man become apparent as you read through the book.

Neville Chamberlain was a good politician for ordinary times - the 1930's were not ordinary. He was too headstrong and dismissive of those who did not agree with him - the resignation of Anthony Eden as Foreign Minister is a good example. Chamberlain also had too much of a `go it alone' attitude - he did not want others to interfere or re-adjust his pre-ordained views. He bluntly negated Roosevelt's wish to have a unified meeting of the democratic nations - a serious mistake at that juncture in time in early 1938. His hubris and single-mindedness brought about Munich.

One also gets the impression throughout of a nation over-burdened - with problems of the depression of the 1930's, of coping with their vast empire overseas and at times hardly aware of the volatile European situation across the English Channel. We see an insular empire collapsing beneath the weight of overwrought responsibilities.

The author is clear and correct that appeasement is what Neville Chamberlain desired and believed would establish European peace.

Keith Feiling cites numerous letters that the Munich debacle bought precious time for England; this is dubious reasoning at best. Better is the comment from Masaryk - "If you have sacrificed my nation to preserve the peace of the world, I will be the first to applaud you. But if not, gentlemen, God help your souls."

One must give credit to Neville Chamberlain in that he finally saw through his errors or methodology and did not flinch from declaring war on Germany after the Polish invasion.

The first half of the book I found tedious with passages of Neville Chamberlain's early career. I also found the writing style somewhat awkward.

The latter half - with his role in national government, is far more interesting. Aside from short descriptions of his married life and children - there is little on Neville Chamberlain's personal life. The author does an efficient job in detailing events as they were perceived during that era - and not writing a retrospective analysis.
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