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The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour Paperback – 12 Dec 1985

4.3 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Paperback, 12 Dec 1985
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (12 Dec. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140086129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140086126
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,830,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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Format: Paperback
"The Gathering Storm" is the initial volume of Winston Churchill's epic history of World War II. Beginning with the end of World War I, which planted the seeds of World War II, the Unnecessary War, Churchill tells the martial story through the end of the Twilight War in May 1940. He covers the story from all perspectives, military, political and personal.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Gathering Storm is the first book in Churchill's six volume history of WW2.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is the greatest story ever told by one of the greatest story tellers ever. Churchill was a magnificent writer, fully deserving of his Nobel Prize for literature. His account of the war is positively Tolkienesque, sounding at times almost like the very best of epic science fiction. One gets insights into the grand strategy and global logistics of the war at an extraordinary level of detail, from naval dispositions across the globe down to problems of boot manufacture. We see the war not just as it was fought, but alternative ways it might have been fought, and the tensions that determined the hard decisions that were taken between the alternatives.

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.
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