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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 43 reviews
on June 14, 2014
Lukacs writes well and he covers a key period of less than 12 weeks in World War II when the Nazis were making stunning gains and seemed in the eyes of many observers to be unstoppable. Appeasement was followed by defeatism and feelings of helplessness. Churchill was trying to build support for keeping Britain in the war while Hitler was deciding whether to try to invade Britain. This is one of those points in history the course is decided by a small number of personalities. Lukacs focuses on these 2 key individuals and makes very effective use of the historical archives to give you depth on how the events played out. He builds on the work of many historical researchers as well as his own previous writings. This book gives you a sense of just how easily things could have gone a different way.

IMO, Churchill's greatest contribution was to convince the Cabinet to not make a deal with Hitler. Before reading this book I thought he had much stronger support as soon as he became PM. But in the early weeks of his Prime Ministership he really was still involved in a battle of wills to prevent a deal with Hitler and demoralization of the British that would follow such a deal.

Churchill comes across as animated by the temperament of an earlier age. Having recently read John Glubb's The Fate Of Empires essay I wonder whether by possessing a personality from an earlier stage of the British Empire's development his sentiments were naturally more opposed to kowtowing than were those of people who had more modern sentiments.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 5, 2008
Two men stand in the arena of world conflict. Winston Churchill for Great Britain and Adolf Hitler the dictator of Germany. Their 80 day duel of wills in the spring and summer of 1940 are the subject of John Lukacs' short but powerful history of this fateful encounter.
Winston Churchill was the underdog. He took office as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940 during England's darkest hour. Neville Chamberlain and his government of compromise, appeasement and wiffle-waffle craven statesmanship was gone.
Adolf Hilter was on a train on May 10th. He was proud as a peacock! His armies on that day had been launched against the low countries and France. By June his Nazi hordes had conquered France and on June 14th seized Paris. In May his forces had forced overe 250,000 British troops to evacuate France during the Dunkirk evacuation. Only proud Albion stood silent sentinel in Hitler's cancerous invasion of European democracy.
Churchill faces uphill obstacles which boggles the mind even 60 years later! He had to seize control of the Cabinet of appeasers and those wishing to negotiate with the Nazis. He had to save the army in France and grieve over the fall of the French goverment. Churchill had to do this with the weapons of his peerless oratorical and fighting gifts.
His major coup was involving the sleeping giant and arsenal of democracy the United States in the European arm. Without the great assistance of his friend FDR and the United States the British would have fallen into the insatiable maw of the German best of prey.
Hitler's fatal mistake was his invasion of the Soviet Union. With the United States, the Soviet Union and the British Empire leagued against him the cruel dictator was doomed.
In addition to telling this story so well. Dr. Lukacs is adept at describing the personalities and habits of both Hitler and Churchill. His prose sparkles and his insights are wise. Lukacs is a scholar of repute who is always worth ready. Any bibliography of essential World War II books should include this short but powerful work.
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on May 17, 2016
One of the best WW2 books I've ever read. Excellent insight into the events that summer of 1940, not just a re-telling of what happened. The major events of the book take place in a period (post fall of France, pre battle of Britain) mostly glossed over by other books. This is mandatory reading for anyone who considers themselves a WW2 "armchair historian"
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on October 12, 2011
A gifted writer and historian, Mr. Lukacs writes a thought provoking differing view of Hitler then is untypical of most books about Hitler. Gone is the rug chewing, temper tantrum throwing, maniac I was used to reading about, and in his place, a cold, calculating, revolutionary Hitler emerges, who frets and worries, makes right and wrong moves, and is good at reading everyone but himself and Churchill. The portrait of Churchill is more conventional with Churchill being the great wordsmith and indomitable soul of Great Britain.

A caution should be added: bone up on your vocabulary or have a good dictionary within easy reach when reading this book. The author is erudite and a master of his subject matter but it is ,at times, a bit difficult to read.
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on September 21, 2015
Exceedingly readable with fine footnotes. I'm impressed with the style of the writing, too. Some have dogged Lukacs for his moralizing, but it's really in the background, and his comments are balanced. Fine read.
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on October 20, 2013
The book is interesting, but it's not an easy read. I love books like American Caesar on Douglas MacArthur or Last Lion on Churchill by William Manchester. Those seem to be historically accurate, but also are books I couldn't put down. This isn't one of them. Don't get me wrong. The book is interesting, but it's not as easy to get through.
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on June 21, 2016
A deeply intelligent and well written account of the battle of the wits, political will, articulated in a measured and practical way. A really brilliant way to present the intellectual and character accounts of the two leading actors in WWII.
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on August 9, 2009
This book is very cleverly written on the events that took place in Europe at the very beginning of
WW2 and the actions and statements by Churchill and Hitler (The Duel) that affected that particular
point in time. There are statements and actions by many others that also affect that period and the
actions of Churchill and Hitler but it is the thoughts and opinions of these two men that is the focus
of this book. To me it proves again what a great man Churchill was in his stand against the Nazis.
I believe that a majority of americans are very uninformed about this period and would benefit
from reading this detailed book on all the goings on prior to and at the very start of WW2.
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on July 5, 2016
Have not read
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on November 4, 2009
This book takes the reader inside the minds of two of histories most influential men, at the very peak of their powers and responsibilities. We see them try to gauge the political, cultural, and societal moods of their people, their allies, their armies, and the world as they figuratively stare across the English Channel at one another. I was surprised at Hitler's delaying what at the time seemed an inevitable attack on England, while his top Nazi advisers were pushing him to make a move. It was also interesting that during this extremely dangerous summer of 1940 Churchill had virtually stopped corresponding with Roosevelt. Apparently he thought his actions, like the bombing of the French Navy at Oran, would speak volumes to the hesitant Americans, and it did.
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