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Munich: The 1938 Appeasement Crisis [Paperback]

David Faber
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 April 2009
On 30 September 1938 Neville Chamberlain flew back to London from his meeting at Munich with the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. As he paused on the aircraft steps, he held aloft the piece of paper which bore both his and the Fuhrer's signature, the promise that Britain and Germany would never go to war with one another again. He had returned bringing 'Peace with honour - Peace for our Time.' Drawing on a wealth of original archival material, David Faber sheds new light on this extraordinary story, tracing the key incidents leading up to the meeting at Munich and its immediate aftermath: Lord Halifax's ill-fated visit to Hitler; Chamberlain's secret negotiations with Mussolini, and the Berlin scandal that rocked Hitler's regime. He takes us to Vienna, to the Sudetenland, and to Prague. In Berlin, we witness Hitler inexorably preparing for war; and in London, we watch helplessly as Chamberlain makes one supreme effort after another to appease Hitler.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (6 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847390064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847390066
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 280,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A brilliant recreation of a year which I imagined (quite wrongly) I knew everything about' -- Antonia Fraser

'A brilliant recreation of a year which I imagined (quite wrongly) I knew everything about' -- Antonia Fraser

'A fascinating reconstruction of one of the most squalid events in European diplomatic history'
-- Ronald Harwood, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year

'A fascinating reconstruction of one of the most squalid events in European diplomatic history' -- Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph

'A sparkling and perceptive account of events that still resonate seventy years on' -- D. R. Thorpe

'An important contribution to our understanding of the diplomatic debacle which signalled the start of the Second World War' -- Independent on Sunday

'Timely as well as commemorative ... Faber has written a compelling work of narrative history' -- The Spectator

'Timely as well as commemorative ... Faber has written a compelling work of narrative history' -- The Spectator


'A brilliant recreation of a year which I imagined (quite wrongly) I knew everything about'

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fuhrer Runs Rings Around the Democracies 29 May 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an absorbing, detailed, if somewhat lengthy account of the period leading upto and after the Munich Crisis of 1938.

Sadly, it exposes the weakness and vascilation of the then European leaders, led mainly by Britain's Neville Champerlain. These sincere but weak men spent much of their time by partly squabbling amongst themsleves or acting behind each others backs, thus allowing Adolf Hitler to absorb territories that he coveted, without his armies hardly firing a shot.

It is understandable that they wished to avoid another carnage like WW1 which was then so recent in time, but it makes one wonder what might have been if between them they has shown just a little defiance in the face of Hitler's bluster.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Firstly the book was easy to read and very informative on all aspects that took place in 1938. I have studied this area in brief before, so had some prior knowledge on the main events but never really understood the in depth political side, which in turn has enhanced my knowledge, especially form a British perspective with the difference in opinions over Chamberlains appeasement policies. The book is written in a way that does not confuse and because of its easy reading nature, I never wanted to put the book down. This book would be ideal and informative for anybody who has no prior knowledge on the appeasement year of 1938 and the many events such as the Munich Conference. Excellent.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Munich: a study in shame 8 Jun 2010
David Faber: Munich

The Munich agreement of 1938 is generally regarded as the nadir of British foreign policy. More than seventy years on, its memory still exerts a giant emotional influence over British politics. Munich and appeasement (the policy which produced it) have become permanent terms of abuse.

The central narrative of Munich is simple: its motivation is still in dispute. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, attempted to purchase peace with Hitler at the expense of Czechoslovakia, a small, democratic state in alliance with Britain's main ally, France. He pursued this policy with increasing desperation but two personal meetings with Hitler failed to produce a settlement and it seemed certain that Britain and France would go to war in September 1938. With last-minute melodrama (carefully manipulated by Chamberlain to influence Parliamentary and public opinion) the Munich conference averted war by dismembering Czechoslovakia, which was not even invited. Chamberlain's only resistance to Hitler's demands came over the loss of Czech farmers' cows, and even this was soon abandoned. Chamberlain then privately secured Hitler's signature (for all the world like an autograph hunter seeking out a movie star) to a meaningless declaration - hyped up for British voters as "peace in our time."

Some defenders of Chamberlain suggest that his policy was chosen from reluctant necessity. Britain was desperately weak in 1938: Munich bought a year of precious time for rearmament.

David Faber suggests otherwise. His lucid and compelling narrative Munich uses a wealth of British sources to show that Chamberlain believed totally in his policy - and in himself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous history 1 Mar 2011
David Faber has crammed in lots of information but somehow has managed to tie it all together to make the story of this grey period of our history riveting. It paints a clear picture of the individuals concerned, particularly Hitler and Chamberlain and you see how people in power can make momentous decisions, which can affect the whole world, and are sometimes made against the advice of those around them for reasons of personal glorification. It has parallels with the Blair days but at least Chamberlain was shoved out of the way instead of going on make millions in further self promotion. I was sorry that the story finished in 1938 and hope that Faber covers the rest of the story up to the outbreak of war. Wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feeding Crocodiles... 19 Aug 2012
"The foreign policy of Mr. Chamberlain based not upon fear or upon weakness, but upon realism." The Evening Standard newspaper 19th Nov 1937

Although I've seen the odd documentary on the History Channel and have read about WWII in general, I have to confess I've not read anything about this year in particular, at least not a whole book. So I'm unable to judge what new bits of information the author, David Faber, has brought to light (which the critics have praised). So this book was my introduction, and considering it is so well known, it was still a riveting read if slightly long.

The book in fact starts in Nov 1937 with a meeting in which Hitler lays out his plans for the Reich's expansion Eastwards to the stunned heads of the army, navy and the Luftwaffe. We then enter the appeasement crisis documenting the fracas that ensued between the notorious Neville Chamberlain, who wished to instigate negotiations between Britain and the Third Reich, and the British Foreign Office and its head, Anthony Eden, who saw things in rather a different light. Then there is a sex scandal which could, quite possibly, have been the impetus for Hitler's annexation of Austria. The rejection of the Roosevelt administration's overtures to Britain - the powerful ally seeking to become involved in European diplomacy; and that is all before we get onto the dastardly actions of Chamberlain's government whilst presiding over negotiations between the Czechs and the Sudeten Germans.

Like a puzzle forming or a chess game, you watch the pieces slowly move into position and come together as the various officials take note, and decide accordingly. Right from the start Faber makes us aware of public opinion, giving this historical drama an added connection to the period.
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