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Hastings on Churchill's vital contribution to victory
on 16 September 2009
What more is there to say about Churchill? There is certainly no shortage of books, biographies, autobiographies and histories written about Britain's wartime leader.
Hastings seeks to show how Churchill was so crucial to the eventual Allies' victory in World War II in spite of his well known faults.
Although largely a praising work, Finest Years does lay bare faults, such as his impetuous addiction to (usually disastrous) raids and smaller operations for Britain's over-stretched forces.
But overall Hastings finds that Churchill's personality, drive and charisma were crucial in securing overall victory.
He argues persuasively that it was Churchill, who, in the dark days of 1940, had the resolve to continue the fight when all other alternative premieres were advocating coming to an accord with the Nazis.
In a time when Britain and its Empire was viewed with suspicion and even hate by many Americans, his courting of their good opinions through well received visits was important in putting the case for entering the war across.
Churchill's strategic judgement, often criticised, is also praised - he saw very early that the only way to victory was by the US entering the conflict, and also, as a famed hater of Bolshevism, he swallowed his pride, endured many insults and double dealing, and supported the Russians.
Hastings puts forward an argument that it was only Churchill who was equipped to lead Britain to victory - and it is hard to argue with him.
I don't think it shows us an awful lot new, but Hastings brings his considerable judgement to bear on this time to excellent effect.