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The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler First Edition Edition

34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300089165
ISBN-10: 0300089163
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From Library Journal

Lukacs is a familiar name in World War II studies. These two volumes, released in 1990 and 1976, respectively, follow the key players on the other side of the Atlantic. The duelists in the first title are Churchill and Hitler, and this book covers the pivotal 80-day period in 1940 when the Germans were poised to crush British forces and invade the empire. The second volume offers a precise time line of events and describes both what happened and why. Lukacs concentrates not only on the historical but on the sociological aspects of the war. For all collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A wonderful story wonderfully told." -- George F. Will

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300089163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300089165
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By David P. Rosenberg on September 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most thrilling that I have ever read. It is about the 83-day period from May 10, 1940, on which day coincidentally Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain and Adolf Hitler launched the German Army against the Western Front, until July 31, 1940, on which day coincidentally President Franklin Roosevelt decided that America would actively support England against Germany and Hitler decided that he would not after all invade England.
The author conceives of this period as the theater of a personal duel between the titanic figures of Churchill and Hitler (as he notes, the German word is "Zweikampf", a fight of two) during which Hitler had his best chance of winning what Lukacs called in an earlier book "the last European war". That this figure of monstrous gifts, as he is described by the author, did not win was the achievement of Churchill, who knew after the fall of France that England and its Commonwealth could not prevail against the power of Germany without America and Russia on its side, but willed that England would not negotiate with Germany until events or persuasion would bring these powers into the war against Naziism. Lukacs acknowledges that the overwhelming power of Russia and America was necessary to defeat Germany, but Churchill's achievement was that England did not lose the war.
In a later book, "Five Days in London, May, 1940", the author focuses on the period from May 24 to May 28, 1940 within the period of The Duel. Although this five-day period preceded the fall of France, Lukacs identifies it as the period of most acute crisis because the British War Cabinet came close to deciding that England should begin cease-fire negotiations with Germany.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Lonya VINE VOICE on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
John Lukacs' book "The Duel" calls to mind the classic hypothetical paradox that asks what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. In this instance the irresistible force was Adolf Hitler and his armed forces and the immovable object was Winston Churchill.

The duel that is the subject of this book takes place in the tumultuous 80-day period between May 10, 1940 and July 30, 1940. Lukacs surrounds the recitation of this 80-day period with two coincidences. On May 10, 1940 Churchill became Prime Minister, replacing Neville Chamberlain. At the same time the battle for Western Europe began in earnest when Hitler launched land and air attacks on Holland, Luxembourg, and Belgium. On July 31, 1940 Hitler began making formal plans for the invasion of the USSR. On that same day U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt decided to go forward with a lend-lease program that would provide the British navy with 50 aging, but much needed destroyers.

Events in May and early June provided evidence that Hitler and his advancing armies were something of an irresistible force. The German army and air force made quick work of Holland, Luxembourg, and Belgium. France and its forces were defeated in short order as well. At the same time, in these dark early days, Churchill's hold on power was tenuous at best. As Lukacs is quick to point out, the ousted Chamberlain was more popular amongst Conservative party loyalists. Churchill's only real popular support according to surveys cited by Lukacs came from working class (labour) voters. Hitler and the U.S. Ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy both seemed to think that, if anything, Churchill was an easily removable force. Facts, as Lukacs points, proved both Hitler and Joseph Kennedy wrong.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mattias Borjesson on April 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
John Lukacs is without doubt one of the most creative and original historians of our time. To add further to his credit he writes as fine as any novelist, probably better than most of them. And most of his perpectives and theories are original thought provoking, and so much based on comman sense and insights that they are almost impossible to prove wrong.
In this intresting and compelling study Lukacs shows that, in May 1940 there really were a turning point in the historical development of the 20th century. He also shows that Hitler there and then, could have won the war if Britain would have given up. Lukacs criticize the idea that the "great-men" have no influence in the historical flow, and the marxist idea that only the great workings of the masses of people, and economical development is the engine of History. Lukacs again points out that without Hitler, Stalin or Chruchill the history of th 20th century would have been much different. In "The Duel" he points out Churchill as the driving force to make the brittish continue in their resistence to Hitler. In the psychological duel that continued over the 80 days Churchill succeded to rally the entire Brittish people behind him. Hitler, who never thought of invading Britain, becuse he was convinced the British would give in, when France was conquered. First in July did he realize that Britain would continue the war alone, that he would have to invade Britain to end the war. But then it was already to late, when the german airforce was unsuccesfull in destroying the RAF, he postponed the invasion of Britain. Later as Lukacs shows, he conviced himself that to invade Russia would be better.
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