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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener, 19 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World (Hardcover)
When I discovered that this book was by an American right-wing Republican politician I nearly did not read it, but to my great surprise I found it really excellent. The author was adviser and speech-writer for both Nixon and Reagan. In 1992 and 1996 he tried to get the Republican nomination for President. I disagree with him on a great many matters, yet I still found this book really interesting and valuable and it is clear that he has put an enormous amount of time and effort into writing it. Few people who are not scholars can have read so much and be so well informed. It is my view that a politician has a background that, in some ways, makes his viewpoint more valuable than that of an historian. The account is all about power politics and he knows about that as someone who has been very close to a seat of power for many years.
British people are so steeped in the notion that Churchill is/was the most wonderful leader this country has ever had that it is very hard for British writers to be objective. Criticise Churchill here in Britain, and people will be shocked and outraged. Buchanan, being an American, is able fearlessly to show how much damage our Winston did.
The book does have serious shortcomings. In particular not enough consideration is given to the gas chambers and it is amazing, for instance, that neither Auschwitz not Dachau even appear in the index. You have to look under 'Holocaust'. Even so, I heartily recommend the book.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Jan 2010 00:55:41 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jan 2010 00:57:24 GMT
When one reads histories of the 'liberal/socialist' Governments in control of the UK since the 1960's; one rarely see's pictures of abortion clinic's or the aborted babies being shovelled into hospital incinerators; but I have yet to hear a complaint about shortcomings on that score. Strange isn't it, that the liberal leader Sir David Steele was knighted for spearheading the legalization of abortion, which as of 2008AD has 'terminated' 4,000,000 British babies; while Hitler is loathed for 'terminating' 6,000,000 Jews. Funny old world isn't it???

Posted on 23 Jun 2010 17:20:27 BDT
Jim -

I rather liked your review, especially the remark on the difference between an historian and a politician when it comes to a look at past events.

On the other hand, I don't think that Auschwitz had any direct effect on the conduct of the war, because, if we follow the traditional account of WW2 events, it was only in the spring of 1944, when two detainees, Vrba and Wetzler, escaped from the camp and reported about it, that the Allies began to take notice anything about what is now called the Holocaust. Dachau, on the other hand, was mainly an internal German affair that would not have sufficient reason for a war against that country.

Persecution of the Jews, in the years up to and early into WW2 was an ugly matter, but then Poland had, ever since the country was put back on the map (by Germany and the other Central Powers, by the way, when they made peace with Russia at Brest-Litowsk in 1917) carried out an intensive campaign against its own and rather large Jewish population. These policies which culminated in 1938 when Polish Jews living abroad were asked to renew their passports in Poland if they did not want to become stateless, did not create a stir among the future Western Allies; thus Buchanan rightly excludes the Jewish question as a reason for going to war against Germany.

Details concerning these Polish policies are found in Didier Epelbaum's book "Les enfants de papier", and, to a certain degree in Michael Smith's book "Foley..."


In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jul 2010 14:26:41 BDT
Brian Flange says:
I think my main beef with the whole Buchanan 'unnecessary war' thesis is that it only looks even halfway plausible if you disregard completely some salient facts about what Nazi Germany was actually like in the period leading up to WW2.
The antics of Julius Streicher, the Nuremburg Laws, Kristallnacht, the elimination of political prisoners and so-called 'genetically damaged' [sic] Germans all make it perfectly clear that mass murder in general and the Holocaust in particular were not late additions to Nazi policy but the very essence and expression of Nazi policy from the word go. The Nazis were committed to genocide and, one way or another, they had to be stopped. Nobody in Germany managed to eliminate Hitler and so the Allies had to do the job. (Thank goodness they did.)
Not that such exterminationist polices were without precedent in Germany, of course - some of Kaiser Wilhelm II's officers adopted distinctly Nazi-style tactics in Africa. (For example, the loathsome Lothar von Trotha, architect of what historians now recognise as the 20th century's first act of genocide, committed against the Herero people in 1904.)

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2010 09:23:47 BDT
Vf Glover says:
So David Steel is as bad as Hitler? Jog on. Anyway, what's that got to do with the book?
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