The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour Paperback – 12 Dec 1985
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About the Author
Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) was prime minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. A prolific writer, whose works include The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Churchill brings to light many easily overlooked contributors to the great conflagration. He points out that the Versailles Treaty was the first negotiated by elected politicians who had to satisfy their publics, rather than by princes who only needed to satisfy themselves. He reveals that Germany's ability to pay war reparations was for years made possible only by large American loans. He takes the reader through the attempts to ensure safety through balance of power agreements such as the Locarno Pact and the deterioration of the League of Nations through national withdrawals. The progressive German violations of the Versailles Treaty, unchallenged by the West, paved the way for more serious breaches. German expansion is recorded step by step as the West let each opportunity to cheaply halt its march pass by. All the while the balance of power on land and in the air tilted more and more toward the developing Axis.
Germany growth through the militarization of the Rhineland, and the annexation of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia and Austria set the stage for the invasion of Poland. After allowing other lands to be swallowed up the West, with the balance of power solidly swung against it, took its stand against German aggression. This led to the Twilight War in which Germany took out Poland before turning its attention to France and Britain.Read more ›
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.
Churchill had about as full a life as it is possible to live, and craved risk and adventure even in his years as a war leader, which would have been considered old age for most. In volume IV of this vast 6 volume work we hear of Churchill's epic fortnight journey in August of 1942, that included his first meeting with Stalin in Moscow. The first leg was down to Cairo to sort out the British generals whom Rommel had fought to a standstill in the desert. Auchinleck was sidelined in favour of Alexander, and Gott was to become the new head of the 8th Army. Gott was shot down and killed whilst on his way to Cairo, and Montgomery was the natural choice to succeed him. Thus the stage was set for El Alamein and the first real British victory of the war. The next stop was at Tehran for lunch with the Shah and for meeting up with Roosevelt's envoy to the mission to Moscow, Averell Harriman. Then there was the flight over the Ebruz mountains and the Caspian Sea to Moscow, for three days of very frank talking with Stalin and Molotov. The final night of this visit included a heavy drinking bout with Stalin at his private dacha till 2:30 a.m.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Churchill is meeting sailors & thinking to himself not many around in WWI like me & I think to myself - who else was? Keynes? Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lindsey Clare Gee-Turner
Been meaning to read this for years, it's fascinating and even better than I imagined. Churchill is one of my hero's and it's confirmed in this book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Tim R.
A detailed, personal and beautifully written account of the events running up to the outbreak of WW2. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ian
Disappointing. Described as new but there is a clear fault in the binding. It's a secondPublished 14 months ago by David Pinto
Reedition with updated cover at reasonable price
The meaning of the book needs no comment! Read more