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The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm [Paperback]

Winston Churchill
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 2005 The Second World War
Winston Churchill's six-volume history of the Second World War.

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The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm + The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour + The Second World War, Volume 3: The Grand Alliance
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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441726
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) was prime minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. A prolific writer, whose works include The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
AfTER the end of the World War of 1914 there was a deep conviction and almost universal hope that peace would reign in the world. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic History of World War II 19 Dec 2009
By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
"The Gathering Storm" is the initial volume of Winston Churchill's epic history of World War II. Beginning with the end of World War I, which planted the seeds of World War II, the Unnecessary War, Churchill tells the martial story through the end of the Twilight War in May 1940. He covers the story from all perspectives, military, political and personal.

Churchill brings to light many easily overlooked contributors to the great conflagration. He points out that the Versailles Treaty was the first negotiated by elected politicians who had to satisfy their publics, rather than by princes who only needed to satisfy themselves. He reveals that Germany's ability to pay war reparations was for years made possible only by large American loans. He takes the reader through the attempts to ensure safety through balance of power agreements such as the Locarno Pact and the deterioration of the League of Nations through national withdrawals. The progressive German violations of the Versailles Treaty, unchallenged by the West, paved the way for more serious breaches. German expansion is recorded step by step as the West let each opportunity to cheaply halt its march pass by. All the while the balance of power on land and in the air tilted more and more toward the developing Axis.

Germany growth through the militarization of the Rhineland, and the annexation of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia and Austria set the stage for the invasion of Poland. After allowing other lands to be swallowed up the West, with the balance of power solidly swung against it, took its stand against German aggression. This led to the Twilight War in which Germany took out Poland before turning its attention to France and Britain.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely marvellous 28 Dec 2010
Reading this series is like reading a series of thriller novels which reveal bit by bit in great detail, without boring the reader, the history of the greatest war in history and by a man who was right in the thick of it the whole time. An absolutely amazing read. This isn't just the best history of the war I have read so far, it is also the best history written in contemporary times. I wish we could give it 10 stars. It would deserve every one of those ten.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How can this not have FIVE stars??? 9 Jan 2008
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is the greatest story ever told by one of the greatest story tellers ever. Churchill was a magnificent writer, fully deserving of his Nobel Prize for literature. His account of the war is positively Tolkienesque, sounding at times almost like the very best of epic science fiction. One gets insights into the grand strategy and global logistics of the war at an extraordinary level of detail, from naval dispositions across the globe down to problems of boot manufacture. We see the war not just as it was fought, but alternative ways it might have been fought, and the tensions that determined the hard decisions that were taken between the alternatives.

Churchill had about as full a life as it is possible to live, and craved risk and adventure even in his years as a war leader, which would have been considered old age for most. In volume IV of this vast 6 volume work we hear of Churchill's epic fortnight journey in August of 1942, that included his first meeting with Stalin in Moscow. The first leg was down to Cairo to sort out the British generals whom Rommel had fought to a standstill in the desert. Auchinleck was sidelined in favour of Alexander, and Gott was to become the new head of the 8th Army. Gott was shot down and killed whilst on his way to Cairo, and Montgomery was the natural choice to succeed him. Thus the stage was set for El Alamein and the first real British victory of the war. The next stop was at Tehran for lunch with the Shah and for meeting up with Roosevelt's envoy to the mission to Moscow, Averell Harriman. Then there was the flight over the Ebruz mountains and the Caspian Sea to Moscow, for three days of very frank talking with Stalin and Molotov. The final night of this visit included a heavy drinking bout with Stalin at his private dacha till 2:30 a.m.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-dropping History 4 May 2013
This ought to be required reading in schools or just for everyone. What an astonishing story, and what must it have been like for people who saw the threat from Nazi Germany sit and watch as Europe disarmed while Germany rearmed?

Time and time again it seems an opportunity arises for another world war to be averted, only for those in power to turn away. Even when in 1938 the USA offers to help the UK tells them to stay out of it. Wrap a strong cloth around your jaw when you read or listen to this as your jaw will drop repeatedly.

I actually listened to the full audio book of this and the guy who reads it is excellent as he sounds very similar to Churchill.

One thing this book made me do was go to Hansard and read some of the debates that were had in the Commons - it is easy to do, just google "Hansard" and the date, and you can get more details on what was said. If you don't believe it in this book - go and read the words from the individuals themselves, it is unbelievable.

One point I would make about the Labour disarmament program. Something I didn't appreciate from Churchill but you get from the Hansard account is that Labour were for a League of Nations "World Police". So individual nations would disarm but the League of Nations would be armed, and any nation that tried to arm or initiate hostilities would be dealt with by the League of Nations "police" (who would actually be a military outfit, larger than any individual national army, and so able to impose peace on everyone).

This at least sounds marginally better than the simple disarmament program I had assumed they supported from Churchill's account, but unfortunately was so unrealistic given the historical circumstances that it really made no difference.
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