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Interesting but not convincing
on 18 June 2008
Buchanan's brief history of WWI is excellent and the reader cannot fail but cringe at the stupidity by the leaders of both sides (pre and post War). His analysis of WWII however is far weaker.
Delving into Hitler's "intentions" is impossible. Buchanan argues: Hitler had no intention of attacking England, therefore the English should have kept out. Many retort: "he would, if he could". Had he won the East and become master of continental Europe, how long before England became the next morsel for his ambitions? Could a gambler and supreme opportunist, such as Hitler, resist the temptation? Not a wise bet to make.
If England had stayed out and Germany won in the East, would Nazi rule over all of continental Europe been better than the actual outcome, Soviet rule in Easter Europe? Europe's key states (France, West Germany, England) remained free democracies. Enfeebled but free. As to the colonies (British and French) WWII was a major bonus: It ensured their liberation soon after.
Buchanan's view that Churchill was greatly over-rated and a war monger is more in tune with reality. Contemporary biographies (such as Alan Brooke's, Chief of the Imperial Staff) are equally dismissive of his judgement and abilities. Nonetheless, his rhetoric and will power kept the country together in the first, darkest hours and his appointments of commanders and people at the levers of power, were excellent. For that he deserves full credit.