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Indeed, it was...,
This review is from: The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour (Paperback)
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.