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The Second World War Box Rei Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442416856
ISBN-10: 039541685X
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"After the end of the World War of 1914 there was a deep conviction and almost universal hope that peace would reign in the world. This heart's desire of all the peoples could easily have been gained by steadfastness in righteous convictions, and by reasonable common sense and prudence."
But we all know that's not what happened. As Britain's prime minister for most of the Second World War, Winston Churchill--whose career had to that point already encompassed the roles of military historian and civil servant with a proficiency in both that few others could claim--had a unique perspective on the conflict, and as soon as he left office in 1945, he began to set that perspective down on paper. To measure the importance of The Second World War, it is worth remembering that there are no parallel accounts from either of the other Allied leaders, Roosevelt and Stalin. We have in this multivolume work an account that contains both comprehensive sweep and intimate detail. Almost anybody who compiles a list of such works ranks it highly among the nonfiction books of the 20th century.

In the opening volume, The Gathering Storm, Churchill tracks the erosion of the shaky peace brokered at the end of the First World War, followed by the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis and their gradual spread from beyond Germany's borders to most of the European continent. Churchill foresaw the coming crisis and made his opinion known quite clearly throughout the latter '30s, and this book concludes on a vindicating note, with his appointment in May 1940 as prime minister, after which he recalls that "I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial."

Their Finest Hour concerns itself with 1940. France falls, and England is left to face the German menace alone. Soon London is under siege from the air--and Churchill has a few stories of his own experiences during the Blitz to share--but they persevere to the end of what Churchill calls "the most splendid, as it was the most deadly, year in our long English and British history." They press on in The Grand Alliance, liberating Ethiopia from the Italians and lending support to Greece. Then, when Hitler reneges on his non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union (the very signing of which had proved Stalin and his commissars "the most completely outwitted bunglers of the Second World War"), the Allied team begins to coalesce. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese makes the participation of the United States in the war official, and this is of "the greatest joy" to Churchill: "How long the war would last or in what fashion it would end no man could tell, nor did I at that moment care. Once again in our long island history we should emerge, however mauled or mutilated, safe and victorious."

But as the fourth volume, The Hinge of Fate, reveals, success would not happen overnight. The Japanese military still held strong positions in the Pacific theater, and Rommel's tank corps were on the offensive in Africa. After a string of military defeats, Churchill's opponents in Parliament introduced a motion for a censure vote; this was handily defeated, and victory secured in Africa, then Italy. By this time, Churchill had met separately with both Roosevelt and Stalin; the second half of volume 5, Closing the Ring, brings the three of them together for the first time at the November 1943 conference in Teheran. This book closes on the eve of D-day: "All the ships were at sea. We had the mastery of the oceans and of the air. The Hitler tyranny was doomed."

And so, in the concluding volume, Triumph and Tragedy, the Allies push across Europe and take the fight to Berlin. President Roosevelt's death shortly before final victory against Germany affected Churchill deeply, "as if I had been struck a physical blow," and he would later regret not attending the funeral and meeting Harry Truman then, instead of at the Potsdam conference after Germany's defeat. Churchill himself would not be there for the conclusion to the war against Japan; in July of 1945, a general election in Britain brought in a Labor government (or, as he refers to them, "Socialists"), and he resigned immediately, for "the verdict of the electors had been so overwhelmingly expressed that I did not wish to remain even for an hour responsible for their affairs."

About the Author

Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) has been called by historians "the man of the twentieth century." Prime Minister of Great Britain (1940-1945), Churchill won the Nobel prize for literature in 1953.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Second World War
  • Paperback: 4736 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Box Rei edition (May 9, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039541685X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395416853
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Churchill's book is really astonishing, not only for the sheer size, but for the vast expand of knowledge displayed and the personal experience behind it. Churchill includes hundreds of documents and thus gives ample proof of what he writes. His strongest moments are his criticism of British appeasement policy and the account of 1940/41, where his will to survive and his pertinacity can still be felt through the pages. His personal experience is always there, though he refrains from giving his readers too many anecdotes. In spite of the fact the everything was written very shortly after the war, most things are quite accurate, though the pages on Nazi Germany are not always enlightened. But - being German - I have never felt any hatred towards my people as a whole and one can well join in with his disgust of Germany at that time. The book, or rather books, never bore. An absolute masterpiece of historical writing.
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Format: Paperback
I started reading these six volumes during my military service in the 1960s, and have not been without them since. I have not only the hardcover edition, but picked up this paperback set also.

I've always felt the good side of Britain turning their collective backs to this great man after World War II, not returning him to office, was the greatest blessing of all. For to us that action directed him to write these volumes of war memories, and in my mind's eye can see him standing, for he always stood to do his later writings, with both cigar and whisky and soda firmly in hand. Revisiting his firm convicitions that right would eventually triumph over wrong, good over evil. Taking comfort that he almost alone, gave both voice and backbone to England during their darkest hour.

He always believed too in the myth that King Arthur would return during England's hour of greatest need, and his romantic side must have seen himself somewhat filling that role. He always said if Arthur did not exist, he should have.

From his earliest, youthful days in office at the turn of the 20th century, he always had a gift for both good writing and good speech. His weak speaking voice, sometimes with lisp, may not have always equalled these abilities, but many of his speeches and writings yet give evidence of this talent.

I still recall one older gent telling me in a book store years ago that to read these six volumes he needed continuously both a dictionary and Bible by his side. He was happy to share his enjoyment in these books with me, as many thousands of other readers down through the years have also shared in that enjoyment.

I'm so prejudiced that it would seem remiss for any World War II library to be without these volumes.
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Format: Paperback
Most people have the feeling that Winston Churchill won a nobel prize. Since Churchill was the 1st minister of the United Kingdom during most of the Second World War, it's natural for them to think CHurchill won the Nobel Peace Prize for achievements during the war. That's not the truth. Churchill won the Nobel Prize for LITERATURE in 1953, accordingly to the Scandinavian institution, "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values".
Among the books that granted Churchill the Nobel Prize is "The second world war". This book is a history lesson about WWII. Even if it's more than 1000 pages in length, it's never a tedious reading, even if it becomes very dense at some parts.
Churchill was always in the center of the war, as a politician. "The second world war" is a book about the War's politics. All the motives and reasons behind the war are toroughly explained, as well as all the war's developments during the toughest six years in the history of humanity.
Being a book mostly about politics, I felt at some times the lack of battle field scenes; being a book mostly about the war in Europe and northern Africa, I felt I wanted more information about the war in the Pacific. But it's undertandable that "The second world war" doesn't go very deep in these subjects, because Churchill writes mostly about what he was part of, so much so that in Brazil the title of this book is "Memoirs of the second world war". And that's what it is: Churchill's memories of what he was part of during WWII.
So, it's not a complete book about the war, and it couldn't possibly be, but it's a fundamental book for readers to understand the war in a political way.
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Format: Paperback
I'll start by admitting that I have not read the complete, unabridged, six-volume set of Winston Churchill's "The Second World War". I have read the condensed version, which is still a mighty tome, with twelve hundred pages of small print. The book is fascinating in many respects and Churchill was certainly a unique and powerful prose stylist. You can't help but be struck by his phrase-making. Where others might say "..it is of great impoortance that.. etc.", Churchill gives us the immeasurably better "..it is of the highest consequence that...etc."

There can be no doubt that Churchill was a singular personality, but as one reads into his account of WWII, one can't help but wonder whether it can be true that the man never suffered a moment of self doubt, never wondered whether he was making the right decision? Churchill's writings were once criticized as "the triumph of the public over the personal" and it must be said that there is some weight to that. The only glimpses one is regularly given into Churchill's mind are his expressions of frustration and alarm when people disagree with him and prefer not to take what to him is the obviously correct path. Before the entry of the US into the war, he was only frustrated by disagreements with his military commanders and he could fire them, e.g. Wavell and Auchinleck (Churchill only really admired attacking Generals and it is clear that caution was not one of the attributes he particularly admired). After the US entered the war and Churchill was obliged to cede a considerable amount of control to the Americans, he was frequently overruled in his views about how the war should be prosecuted and seems, in each instance to have remained convinced for the rest of his life that he was right and it was terrible shame that he didn't get his way.
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