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The Second World War, Volume 6: Triumph and Tragedy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
...and so were able to resume the Follies which had so nearly cost them their life." So said Winston Churchill in the preface to this volume.

This is the last volume of Churchill's six volume history of the Second World War. The first volume covers the approximate 20 year period between the end of WW I until May, 1940. The second volume covers seven months, commencing with the German attack on France until the end of the year. The third volume covers one year: 1941. Britain, and her Empire had fought the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan alone before Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, in June, 1941, led to the USSR joining an alliance with Britain. Six months later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the third major power into conflict with the Axis. The fourth volume describes how the three greatest allied powers, each in their own way, finally turned the tide, and reversed the relentless advance of the axis powers, and spans from the beginning of '42 to mid-'43. The fifth volume commences in mid-'43, and spans a year, until D-Day, June, 1944. This last volume commences on D-Day, and ends BEFORE V-J Day, the surrender of Japan, since the British people refused to continue his leadership mandate in the election of July, 1945.

As with his other volumes the primary focus is on British and American efforts to defeat Nazi German and fascist Italy. It commences with a workable account of D-Day, and the Allied drive to Paris. Not as crucial to the final victory, but still noteworthy was the Allied invasion of southern France with 86,000 troops. The coverage of the fighting on the Eastern front is limited, and was primarily focused on the Warsaw uprising. Churchill also devotes an entire chapter to the critical naval battle in the Pacific, in Leyte Gulf. As with the other volumes, at least half deals with the diplomatic meetings and maneuvers to maintain a common front. This included conferences in Quebec, Moscow and the epic ones in Yalta and Potsdam. In the second portion of the book, Churchill covers the Allied efforts in Burma, the decisions related to the Polish borders (the country was literally shifted to the West, by approximately one third of its width.) He also covered the decision to use the Atomic bomb, and the manner in which Stalin was informed.

As mentioned in reviews of earlier volumes, Churchill's work might not be the best place for an overall objective view of the war. It is long, with numerous original documents that may be of interest only to the specialist. What is also lacking is the behind the scenes views of the other allies, as well as the planning and motivation of the Axis powers. And the coverage on the fighting on the Eastern Front is scant. Still, Churchill was ideally suited to provide the British perspective, both diplomatically and militarily, and he does he quite well. There are some excellent maps, and numerous appendices with more detailed information on troop and material strengths. The volume also includes some photographs of the key events, and major figures during that year.

Churchill seemed to have grave reservations about the "unconditional surrender" objectives of the Allies. He notes that if the leader of a power that will lose knows that he will be executed by the victors, then he has no incentive but to use all of his people in a fight to the bitter end. As he says on page 539: "The Romans followed the opposite principal, and their conquests were due almost as much to their clemency as their prowess.

He left on a positive note and with the proverbial "stiff upper lip" after his electoral defeat. He concludes: "It only remains for me to express to the British people, for whom I have acted in these perilous years, my profound gratitude for the unflinching, unswerving support which they have given me during my task, and for the many expressions of kindness which they have shown towards their servant." 5-stars.
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"The Hinge of Fate" is the fourth of 6 volumes of Winston S. Churchill's monumental history of World War II. The title is drawn from the fact that it was during the period of this book, late 1941 to the middle of 1942, that the hinge of war turned and the German and Japanese, who were advancing so quickly as the book opened, had started their long march to defeat and destruction. In the early chapters the Japanese are running rampant throughout the Pacific and into the Indian Ocean, threatening even Australia and India, while America was trying to recover from Pearl Harbor. The German Army was running out of steam in Russia, but months of bitter siege lay ahead. In North Africa, the Axis were still struggling with the British for control. In the Atlantic, U-boats exacted their deadly tolls, even within sight of American shores.

In the Far East, the Japanese marched through Malaya to the shores of the British bastion, Singapore, whose guns were, unfortunately, pointing to the sea rather that toward the land approaches. There inferior Japanese forces received the greatest surrender in the history of the British Army. The Dutch East Indies and its oil fell to the Japanese while their Navy menaced Ceylon, their Army conquered New Guinea and their pilots bombed Australia.

In North Africa the combined Italian-German forces threatened the Suez Canal and made the Mediterranean a hostile Sea for Allied shipping. The surrender at Tobruk, again to inferior enemy forces, was another blow to British confidence and prestige.

Churchill is mostly telling the story from his viewpoint, which was not, during this period, limited to Downing Street. The book starts with him visiting at the White House. The reader then follows him to Casablanca, across North Africa, to Moscow and back to Washington.

Churchill was a political animal and he tells the political tales. One of the major problems during this period of the war was the rivalries among French leaders: DeGaulle and Giraud, the sensitive prima donnas, and Darlan, the essential officer with a collaborationist past. Winston frequently mentions the American antipathy toward DeGaulle and the uproar created by the arrangements with Darlan, commander of the French Navy, who had so willingly cooperated with the Nazis when they were in the ascendency.

No political problem surpassed that of taming the Russian bear. It was up to Churchill to face Stalin's demands for a second front and then convince him of the impossibility of a landing in Europe in 1942 and the value of the "Second Front" in Africa and the bombings of Germany. The necessity of telling Stalin that the Arctic convoys would be suspended due to unacceptable losses did not make the meetings any more pleasant.

We now think of Churchill as the unchallengeable leader of Britain, but this book reminds us of an abortive revolt in the House of Commons in which a motion of censure was introduced in the wake of surrenders at Singapore and Tobruk.

Not all was disaster and the Hinge did turn. Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat. Operation Torch landed American troops in Africa and started them on the road to victory. In the Pacific, the Coral Sea and Midway, which was intended to finish the destruction of the American fleet begun at Pearl Harbor, sent Yamamoto's air arm to the bottom. By book's end, Africa was redeemed, the Japanese tide was receding, the Red Army was attacking and the next operation, Sicily or Italy, was being debated.

I have been a fan of Churchill's work since my father suggested that I read it. Now, as I reread it thirty some years later, the attraction has not diminished. It still brings the reader into meetings, conferences, battlefields and the minds of the wars leaders. It is limited by its personal outlook, but nonetheless it remains the indispensable World War II memoir.
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on 10 November 2013
Churchill's personal account of the final months of World War II is as engaging and interesting as the previous five volumes. However, I was disappointed with the subjects not covered as much as I was interested in what was.

To start with there is no mention in any of the volumes that I can recall around the Concentration Camps and certainly not in this volume. As these were liberated and the truth around 'The Final Solution' became apparent, I was looking forward to reading Churchill's disgust and shame about what had been going on under the Nazis for many years, but there was nothing. This is one of the major issues associated with World War II and for one of the main antagonists of the conflict not to make any reference to it at all is astounding. Similarly Japanese treatment of POWs was also overlooked.

Then there is Dresden. The rights and wrongs of the blanket bombing of this city towards the end of the war is still a cause for debate almost seventy years on, but again nothing. Perhaps Churchill felt it to be too controversial to be discussed, but I feel this means his famous work misses something.

Finally the fate of Rommel, whom Churchill was keen to laud as a worthy adversary in an earlier volume, is neglected. I would have felt that he would want to pay a final tribute to the man, who was a true officer and gentleman, but alas no.

Given that we are shown memos dealing with less important matters such as the beer allocation for the troops in the appendices (and the supply of playing cards in an earlier volume), these omissions seem even more baffling to me.

You can also tell that this volume was written after he had returned to power. In the first volume, written while Leader of the Opposition, his bitterness at being thrown out of office was plain to see. However, having reassumed the mantle of Prime Minister his tone was markedly calmer.

Despite what is not there, what is included is certainly worth a read for anyone interested in history, it's just a shame to my mind that we could not have had a little more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 13 February 2012
As exciting and absorbing as the rest of this work, thoroughly recommended for anyone with a serious interest in the Second World War.
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on 6 July 2014
I was given a box set of five of the first five volumes and having read all of them, I had to have the sixth. Why a box set was produced which omitted the final volume I so not know!
All volumes are worth reading - they are the actual words of the Greatest Englishman. Written just after the war, without the 'benefit' of years on hindsight and analysis, it shows that we definitely had the right man in the right place at the right time.
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on 27 October 2013
Churchill was a great writer as well as a remarkable politician. All style as well as substance, his writings would make him interesting even if he had done nothing else.
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on 7 December 2012
Winston Churchill's historical facts of WW2 are first class and cannot be faulted but unfortunately the proof reading and spelling is atrocious.
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on 8 November 2012
Excellent historical book for anyone intersted in finding the truth about World War II, however it is riddled with spelling mistakes
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on 18 February 2015
good condition
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on 16 April 2015
Excellent
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