16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding book - three in one!,
This review is from: Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45 (Hardcover)
This is a great book which is actually three narratives weaved into one. The first is the Churchill story which many readers will be familiar with, particularly if you've read another account such as Roy Jenkins' biography. However, the difference here is that it centres solely on the Second World War which is undoubtedly the most compelling part of Churchill's life.
The second concerns the story of Britain's home front - from the machinations of other politicians to the lives of ordinary Britons. This is fascinating because it describes aspects of our history which many writers overlook. Numerous aspects of those times resonate with today's society - spin, political plots, public cynicism and economic unrest.
The third narrative, which for me was the most interesting, concerns Britain's relationship with its principal allies. Whilst we may be familar with the frosty Anglo-Soviet diplomacy of that era Hastings provides an illuminating account of Britain's relationship with America. This shows that the so called 'special relationship' was always a British aspiration rather than a political reality. The truth is that the Americans pursued policies which suited their national interests and Britain benefited when our interests converged.
I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the areas I've touched on and reiterate the point that the politics of that era cast a shadow into the affairs of the 21st Century.
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Initial post: 25 Feb 2011 16:36:31 GMT
Bearing in mind the scope of the subject Max Hastings did well to keep the book at a manageable 664 pages. This may account for his decision not to dwell on the so called 'special relationship' when dealing with Churchill's unending and unsuccessful efforts to make the US and it's president see the inevitablity of their having ultimately to join Great Britain in the war against Europe's Nazi and Fascist regimes.
There was in truth never any 'special relationship'.
In fact; as Hastings frequently shows, the opposite was true as far as most of America was concerned.
Churchill; being half American by birth, undoubtedly had a soft spot for America and it's people; but it was not reciprocated; and certainly not; once they did eventually become our allies, by the American leadership; civil or military.
One has only to look at the way in which; whilst purporting to 'aid' Great Britain, the United States cold bloodedly set out to ensure that the price of that aid would bring about Britain's financial ruin.
Hardly had the shooting stopped than the U.S. began pouring in massive aid to rapidly build up the economies of both it's erstwhile enemies, Germany and Japan; now viewed solely as allies against the communist threat.
And whilst aiding it's old enemies the US once again turned it's back on the British.
If there ever was a special relationship, it was only a fleeting sentimental one in the mind of Winston Churchill.
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