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1940 was a historical pivot point and these were the 2 key figures
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.