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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic History of World War II
"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...
Published on 19 Dec 2009 by James Gallen

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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Disappointed as I purchased new book and it was not new. Although in good condition it was grubby and did not look or feel new.
Published 6 months ago by Gill Delamere


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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 (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
"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. Northern actions included the Soviet attack on Finland and the futile British attempt to prevent Swedish iron ore from reaching Germany by the British invasion of Norway.

One service which did take action during the early phase of the war was the Royal Navy, under the direction of the author as First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. Stunned by the sinking of the Oak Royal and Rawalpindi, the Navy hunted down the surface raider, Graf Spee, until it was irreparably damaged and scuttled in Uruguay.

This book, along with the others in the series, centers on Churchill and concentrates on British involvement in the war. It definitely presents his views on developments. Although lacking the objective qualities of works by uninvolved historians, it is a highly valuable first person observation of the lead up to and early months of World War II. I first read this series while a college student, not as part of a class, but at my father's suggestion. It was very good advice. "The Gathering Storm", along with the other volumes in the series, is a classic with which every student of World War II must be familiar.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely marvellous, 28 Dec 2010
By 
Wildlifespecialist76 (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
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 (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
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. before starting the return flight at 5:30, three hours later. All the flying was in unheated bombers that would have been the death of many men his age, much of it too close for comfort to enemy airspace. Churchill, when awake, preferred to travel in the co-pilot's seat, and his descriptions of his dawn arrival at the Nile, and the flight across the Caspian are highly memorable. An ordinary bloke like me can only wonder; what a life?

Any historical source documents, which these are, have to be treated with great caution and circumspection, and the factuality of all claims reviewed in the light of alternative perspectives. Indeed it's on my reading list to follow up on Roosevelt, as one does not have to read too far between the lines to guess that the two leaders were not quite of the unified outlook that Churchill liked to paint. Nonetheless, questions of historical accuracy and bias aside, this is extraordinary literature and as good a place as any to start acquiring a deeper insight into the historical unfolding of the war.

There are many reasons to argue that Churchill was a flawed, possibly deeply flawed character. He was an aristocrat and an imperialist through and through, thus he was representative of attitudes that most of us are glad to have put behind us in our era. But he had a great warrior spirit, chocked with contradictions, and was also a truly marvellous writer. He lived an extraordinary life and was able to write to us very clearly about the huge events in which he participated.
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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
By 
J. Mann - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
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.

I wonder if the environment will be another "Hitler" - a major issue ignored by the world until disaster strikes? Unfortunately because "global warming" isn't going to come into the middle of London with a large column of tanks and change the national anthem we'll still be denying it when the seas have risen and the ice-caps melted and our climate gone totally nuts.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinatingly detailed, maybe not 100% accurate however..., 7 Oct 2007
By 
lexo1941 (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
It's not often you get a history of a war written by a statesman who was a major player in it; basically, there's this and anything written by Julius Caesar. Churchill is a considerably more prolix writer than Caesar, but he also had a better sense of humour.

This and the second volume of Churchill's history (not so much an authoritative history as a six-volume memoir of How I Fought The War) are probably the most gripping books, covering as they do the crucial period after the fall of France in which Britain was alone against the Nazis. Churchill's lifelong problem as a politician was that he was inclined to over-dramatise the events in which he was concerned, but during 1940, events finally got as big and as important as he was naturally inclined to believe them to be. And, it must be said, he delivered. He was the man for the hour, even if he wasn't as brilliant a military leader as he liked to think he was (like Hitler he was inclined to micro-manage, but he never fell into the trap of losing all faith in his generals). His speeches in particular helped to galvanise a mood and articulate a sense of defiance, such that even if you disagreed with him you found it hard to say so. And he was always wisely conscious of the vital importance of wooing Roosevelt. He himself said that when he learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he went to sleep happy and content in the knowledge that there was now no longer any chance that the Germans and Japanese could win - Britain and America together would be unbeatable.

He was right about that. He wasn't always entirely accurate in his retelling of events. Probably the most riveting story in the whole series is his account of how he came to be Prime Minister in the first place, and his version of events has been authoritatively challenged; in retelling it here, Churchill made himself out to be less sure than he really had been that he would be offered the position. This version is more dramatic, but the truth would have been nice. Still, it's a good read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 27 May 2014
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This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
Disappointed as I purchased new book and it was not new. Although in good condition it was grubby and did not look or feel new.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is history in the making, 15 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
This is not a book describing just when and what happened, it is a biography. It gives a view of what was happening and what was going on in his mind.

Loved the first section which is very revealing on all the things that went wrong between the end of WWI and the invasion of Poland
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4.0 out of 5 stars suggested, 5 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
Wonderful book, poor cover
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Title says it all, 18 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
I chose to read this after answering some trivia on the MicroChurchill android application which is great fun. This is a fantastic book that indulges you in British History and makes your proud of previous leaders.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History from a personal viewpoint, 8 Oct 2009
By 
Mr. L. Hunt "LH" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm (Paperback)
Churchill's written account of the build up to the Second World War.
An excellent and absorbing book.
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The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm
The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill (Paperback - 5 May 2005)
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