26 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Kershaw never found the plot.
, 11 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 (Allen Lane History) (Hardcover)
The subject is fascinating, and Ian Kershaw's reputation promises much. How could Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese warlords make such crass mistakes? But in 483 pages citing 420 authors Kershaw provides no explanation because he ignores three pivotal factors.
First he is silent about the battle of Kalkin Gol in which Zhukov destroyed Japanese military pretensions in 1939 with pivotal consequences.
Secondly, Kershaw fails to mention Roosevelt's nightmare of the combined fleets of Germany, Britain, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Poland sailing up the Chesapeake and driving him from the White House in 1941 or 1942.
Thirdly, Kershaw never examines the USA's isolationist movement in any detail.
These omissions are extraordinary, and make his book valueless.
For the record, Kalkin Gol led to Zhukov's appointment as destroyer of the Wehrmacht. It also traumatised Japan which chose the southern option and refused to help Hitler fight Russia. Worse for Hitler, it allowed Zhukov to redeploy his Eastern army to the gates of Moscow where it defeated the Wehrmacht.
For the record, FDR's nightmare about the combined fleets in the Chesapeake drove him to commit his warships to the Atlantic in an attempt to fight Hitler to the last Englishman. This exposed him to the Japanese.
And for the record, the isolationist sentiment in the USA made it impossible for FDR to declare war on Hitler even after Pearl Harbour.
Kershaw therefore never asks why Hitler was ignorant of the proven abilities of Zhukov and the Red Army, and why he committed hara kiri by declaring war on a paralysed USA.
If Hitler had ignored FDR's provocations, there could have been no invasion of North Africa, of Sicily or of Normandy because there would have been no landing craft and no US armed forces in Europe. The Luftwaffe would have avoided defeat by the USAAF and in their turn defeated Bomber Command. There would have been no atomic weapons, and the war would have dragged on interminably. How it would have ended is anyone's guess, but Kershaw does not even get to ask it.
He just doesn't get the plot.
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