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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No one quite like Winston Churchill
Volume Two of the World War series is fascinating reading, not only for the details on British strategy and approach during the difficult years 1940 and 1941, but also for the issues that Churchill (writing these volumes, of course, after the war) identified as particularly controversial and which might have called his management of the British war effort into question...
Published on 21 Oct 2010 by T. D. Jon

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Shocking Proof Reading
This is a classic, a great book by a great man and essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in modern European history. Getting a copy for the Kindle should have been a delight but sadly my enjoyment is being spoiled by appalling proof reading. It is not enough to just scan the book in, someone has to go through it and apply a bit of common sense. I am...
Published on 3 Aug 2012 by Nick66


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No one quite like Winston Churchill, 21 Oct 2010
By 
T. D. Jon (Italy) - See all my reviews
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Volume Two of the World War series is fascinating reading, not only for the details on British strategy and approach during the difficult years 1940 and 1941, but also for the issues that Churchill (writing these volumes, of course, after the war) identified as particularly controversial and which might have called his management of the British war effort into question. Wonderful insights into the details of taking on the new face of war in the skies above England and in London itself. This is also something of a lesson plan -- at the highest level -- of organizational management.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The memoir by the WW2 leader who saw it all, 12 May 2012
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P. A. Downs (London, England) - See all my reviews
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The Gathering Storm is the first book in Churchill's six volume history of WW2.

For a while this was the definitive history of WW2: no longer. Churchill had to keep some things secret (such as Ultra and Bletchley Park) when he wrote this, so there are gaps. But it is the only personal account by any of the 'Big Five' leaders in that war and as such it's still a very important source for anyone reading up on this area of history.

In this first volume, Churchill covers the Interwar years from his own viewpoint. He became convinced very early on that Germany was set on a path that could end in another World War. While it's common to portray him as 'a voice crying in the wilderness', his access to high level government information (shown in this volume) makes it obvious that many of the political leaders and civil servants had a much higher regard for him and his views than they could afford to publicly express.

The second part covers the early war months, where Churchill was in charge of the Admiralty and the sea war - the most active theatre of operations in the 'Phoney War' period. The volume ends when Chamberlain's government falls and Churchill becomes Prime Minister.

As well as being an M.P., Churchill was in the 1920's and 1930's a well-regarded writer and popular historian. While his style is of his time, the book is both logically presented and very well written. It also contains a large amount of Churchill's own letters and memoranda, so it's full of primary source material.

I do have one minor niggle with the Kindle edition: the proof reading wasn't very good. There are more than a few typographic errors - which at times became a bit irritating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Churchill's Telling of Churchill's War, 10 Oct 2010
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
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"Their Finest Hour" is Volume II of Winston Churchill's magnus opus on World War II. Beginning with Churchill's ascension to the office of Prime Minister, it continues to the end of 1940. It covers a time of the events of legend. On these pages we read of the end of the Phony War with the Blitzkrieg on France, the evacuation from Dunkirk, the fall of France, the emergence of DeGaulle, and the titanic Battle of Britain that may have been a turning point of the war.

The sudden and shocking collapse of France is told by one who struggled mightily to hold things together as the situation disintegrated around him. Churchill's repeated trips to France to assess conditions and to try to rally the French makes for fascinating reading. Churchill's exhortations to continue the struggle, the French demands for more British commitment, the frantic pleas for an American declaration of war and the incredible offer of a perpetual union between Great Britain and France make for a rapid sequence of unique events that are stranger than any novelist's fiction. As the battle lines dissolved the incredible rescue of the BEF and other forces from Dunkirk saved the troops that were to form the nucleus of the band that would return to France four years later. The fall of France would place the French fleet in jeopardy which led to intense negotiations and the unfortunate British attack at the fleet at Oran.

When the Battle of France was over, the Battle of Britain began. The Battle of Britain was the battle in the skies over Britain in which the RAF and the Luftwaffe fought for the air supremacy that was crucial to any German plans to invade England. When Germany recoiled from the battle the invasion tide receded and the British were forced to seek out other theatres if combat in which to engage the foe, this time in the Middle East.

A gifted writer, Churchill tells the story that only he knew, as only he could write. This book, along with the others in the series, are the indispensable foundations of any in depth study of World War II.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winston Churchill World War 2, 20 Jun 2012
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As I read this book I can hear his voice, his words are still inspiring.
However the quality of the text in this ebook is disappointing, many spelling errors which I can only attribute to the OCR software used to convert the book to an electronic form.
It is a pity that it hadn't been proof read before putting the ebook on sale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed, it was..., 30 Dec 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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This is the second volume of Churchill's six volume history of the Second World War, which was written "just as the dust was still settling," in 1948. Of the various phases of the war, this volume covers the one that Churchill was best placed to narrate: 1940, with the rapid collapse of French resistance, Britain had to fight alone. And it was Churchill's actions and rhetoric that proved an essential catalyst in rallying the British people to the task.

The first volume The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm covers over a 20 year period, from the end of World War I until May, 1940. This volume covers not much more than half a year, from May until the end of 1940. The first half is focused on the fall of France, following the disastrous (for the French) German break-though at Sedan. Tough decisions? Adversity tends to concentrate the mind. There is a chapter of Churchill's decision to sink the French fleet in Oran, Algeria. It was one of the tougher decisions he was forced to make: to turn British guns on his former (and still) allies, killing over 2,000 French sailors, since the French Admiral, Darlan, would not undertake the proper actions to ensure that the fleet did not fall into German hands. There are also good chapters on the evacuation of almost the entire British Army from Dunkirk, which allowed it to fight "another day," as well as the German plans to invade England, which were incorporated under the code name: "Operation Sea Lion."

The second half of the book commenced with the Battle of Britain, the air war that featured the outnumbered Royal Air Force defending Britain, and stopping the Luftwaffe. Many still remember Churchill's stirring tribute to the British airman: "Never have so many owed so much to so few." The relentless German bombing of civilian targets was a key catalyst in rallying the British people for the war, as Churchill covered in his chapter: "London Can Take It."

There are several chapters that underscore the increasingly global nature of the war. Efforts are made to support the newly formed "Free French" units, under General DeGaulle, to oppose the collaborationist government of General Petain, whose government is located in the French town of Vichy. The "Free French" need a base to operate from, and so efforts are undertaken to capture Dakar, in Senegal. A British lifeline is the American war materials coming under the Lend-Lease program, and the Royal Navy must defend the convoys from German U-Boat attack. The "Burma Road" is opened, to supply Chinese forces which are fighting Japan. Germany and Russia continue their maneuvers under the "non-aggression pact" that each has signed. It seems both know that war is inevitable, but particularly Russia is trying to buy time, or is in deep denial. In the Mediterranean, the Axis stays on the offensive, with Italy attacking Greece, Crete, and is moving towards Egypt. Overall, it remained a dark period for Britain, but Churchill's final chapter is an up note: British victories against Italian forces in North Africa.

As with the other volumes in this series, there are numerous telegrams and documents reproduced that only the very serious student of the war need read. Each chapter has useful summaries of the salient matters listed at the beginning, which facilitates ready reference. Once again, as with the first volume, 5-stars for this effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and learn, 13 Jun 2013
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I really enjoyed this as an intro into the remaining books. Lots of things I thought I knew turn out to be ‘not quite right’ and the decisions which now seem ridiculous are more understandable when seen from Churchill and his contemporaries view at the time.
I saw one review saying that it was so distorted that he couldn’t recommend student of the period to read it. I disagree as long as it’s seen as one source of information and not gospel (true for anything you’re ever told by anyone).
I found the language used, of the time, was fascinating as it some of the viewpoints (prejudices) which we don’t tolerate now.
I now have the second in the series and look forward to the PMs view of the Battle of Britain. See what else I thought I knew……
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Churchill's account of the inter-war years, 1 April 2013
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Churchill's writing is very easy on the eye. Throughout the 30s he was a doom merchant whose predictions proved to be sound. His informed account of allied disagreement and appeasement in the face of Hitler's aggression graphically describes the collective folly of the victors of Versailles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Unnecessary War.", 30 Nov 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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It is now more than 70 years since the outbreak of fighting in Europe that was to become the Second World War. The United States was to eventually participate, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor serving as the shocking catalyst. Since WWII, the USA has fought numerous other wars, all too often sordid and inconclusive. And an almost certain nostalgia has developed in regards to WW II, expressed by the phrase: "The Last Good War." Certainly the good and the evil seemed to be more clearly defined; and the entire nation participated, not the very slender percentage in subsequent wars. So, it is all the more striking that the one man generally recognized for rallying the British people in their period alone, during the Battle of Britain, told President Roosevelt, when asked what he thought the name for the war should be: The Unnecessary War. This is the central point Churchill makes in his preface to volume one of his six volume, authoritative history of the war.

The dust had barely settled, and all the bridges and destroyed buildings had not been reconstructed when Churchill wrote and had published this monumental work in 1948. Hardly a cloistered academic, he was a "man of action," and as he also says in the preface, ideally placed, uniquely, given his high governmental positions, to produce such a work (he was First Lord of the Admiralty during much of WW I, and Prime Minister during WW II.) He was able to be both a prolific writer (he has produced several other multi-volume works) as well as holding very demanding jobs, by relentlessly dictating his works to a battery of secretaries. Obviously, they edited and proofed the text, with the result being most commendable.

In "The Gathering Storm" Churchill covers the period from the end of WW I, to the invasion of France. Fittingly, the first chapter is entitled "The Follies of the Victors" which refers to the disastrous terms the victors of WW I, particularly England and France, imposed on Germany. Vindictive and short-sighted, the terms led to the conditions which paved the way for the rise of Hitler to power. Half the book covers the events leading up to Germany's invasion of Poland on September 01, 1939, and these included the military re-occupation of the Rhineland in 1936, Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War, "union" with Austria (which Churchill calls the "rape" of), the Munich pact, and the subsequent seizure of the Sudetenland.

The second half of the book is entitled "The Twilight War" and today is generally referred to as the "Phony War." After the invasion of Poland, due to treaty obligations, both France and England declared war on Germany, but there was no military action on land. At sea however it was a very different story, and Churchill gives and excellent account of the trapping of the German "pocket battleship" Admiral Graf Spee off the River Plate in South America by the cruiser HMS Exeter, and destroyers HMS Ajax and Achilles. The Graf Spee had to be scuttled. The author also gives good summaries of the action in Scandinavia, both the fighting between Finland and the Soviet Union, as well as the German invasion of Norway.

For the first-time student of WW II, this six volume work might not be the best place to start. A reasonable amount of history and geography is assumed (I remember wondering, in pre-Google days, where is this Dieppe he is talking about - now I've been there!). And there are numerous telegrams and documents that authenticate his statements, but may cause eyes to glaze over if they are all read, particularly the ones in the Appendix. Still, this is a remarkable, authoritative work by an equally remarkable man who was so often at the center of the action. As for his suggested name for the war, can it be appended with enough numerical suffixes, for aren't they all? 5-stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Shocking Proof Reading, 3 Aug 2012
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This is a classic, a great book by a great man and essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in modern European history. Getting a copy for the Kindle should have been a delight but sadly my enjoyment is being spoiled by appalling proof reading. It is not enough to just scan the book in, someone has to go through it and apply a bit of common sense. I am averaging about one glaring error every couple of pages and it is getting very irritating.

And don't get me started about the quality of the maps. Not at all sure about this Kindle thing......

Please don't let this review stop you from reading the book, just be aware that you are probably going to enjoy it much more in hard copy.

N
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5.0 out of 5 stars From the horse's mouth, 28 Oct 2014
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Having read a number of histories of this period I had never read Churchill's own account. I purchased the kindle version for taking on holiday. Of course it is biased being Churchill's own account and written while he was still an active politician. It was fascination to understand his thinking and to realise even more how prescient he had been in the 1930s. An excellent book, I will certainly read the other volumes (I am halfway through volume 2 at the moment).
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The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm
The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill (Hardcover - Jun 1948)
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