Year: 2015

Reviews of “Churchill and the Avoidable War”

Reviews of “Churchill and the Avoidable War”

"I’ve touched on this before: if Hitler had been assassinated in 1937, he would have gone down in history as one of the greatest Germans. If assassinated in late 1941, before the tide began to turn, he would have gone down among Germans as a military genius. Horrible as it is to say or contemplate, it was necessary for him to stay around to the bitter end so that Germans could see what fools he made of them." —Manfred Weidhorn

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Paris, 13 November 2015: A Churchill Moment for M. Hollande

Paris, 13 November 2015: A Churchill Moment for M. Hollande

“A Churchill Moment for M. Hol­lande” is excerpt­ed from my arti­cle in The Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor, 18 Novem­ber 2015.

Dear M. Hollande…

The news from France is very bad and I grieve for the gal­lant French peo­ple who have fall­en into this ter­ri­ble mis­for­tune. Noth­ing will alter our feel­ings towards them or our faith that the genius of France will rise again.  —Win­ston S. Churchill, 4 June 1940

On the 2015 Paris attacks: With every mur­der­ous threat to civ­i­liza­tion we are asked: “Where are our Churchills?” There isn’t one, and we should not expect one.…

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“Never Surrender,” by John Kelly

“Never Surrender,” by John Kelly

Nev­er Sur­ren­der: Win­ston Churchill and Britain’s Deci­sion to Fight Nazi Ger­many in the Fate­ful Sum­mer of 1940, by John Kel­ly. Scrib­n­er, 2015, 370 pp., $19.88, Kin­dle $14.99.

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May 1940: Lord Hal­i­fax “sound­ed like a ner­vous solic­i­tor read­ing from a half-thought-out brief….When Churchill spoke of fight­ing on alone, the man­tle of his­to­ry—Agin­court, Water­loo, Trafal­gar, the Arma­da—sang through his sentences.”

Here is a well-writ­ten and orga­nized review of main­ly well-known events, retold with dra­mat­ic prose and crisp analy­sis. It’s an ide­al book for young peo­ple unfa­mil­iar with the scope of Churchill’s achieve­ment in 1940, and, indeed, for any­one who wants a good account of the events that saved West­ern civilization.…

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“Dieu protège la France”

“Dieu protège la France”

Churchill’s words, com­piled in solidarity:

“The news from France is very bad and I grieve for the gal­lant French peo­ple who have fall­en into this ter­ri­ble mis­for­tune. Noth­ing will alter our feel­ings towards them or our faith that the genius of France will rise again.” —4 June 1940

“The House will feel sor­row at the fate of the great French nation and peo­ple to whom we have been joined so long in war and peace, and whom we have regard­ed as trustees with our­selves for the progress of a lib­er­al cul­ture and tol­er­ant civ­i­liza­tion of Europe.”…

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Was WW2 Avoidable?

Was WW2 Avoidable?

con­tin­ued from pre­vi­ous post…

Churchill and the Avoid­able War

Pref­ace

This book exam­ines Churchill’s the­o­ry that “time­ly action” could have forced Hitler to recoil, and a dev­as­tat­ing cat­a­stro­phe avoid­ed. We con­sid­er his pro­pos­als, and the degree to which he pur­sued them. Churchill was both right and wrong. He was right that Hitler could have been stopped. He was wrong in not doing all he could to stop him. The result is a cor­rec­tive to tra­di­tion­al argu­ments, both of Churchill’s crit­ics and defend­ers. Whether the war was avoid­able hangs on these issues.

Chap­ter 1. Ger­many Arm­ing:  Encoun­ter­ing Hitler, 1930-34

“There is no dif­fi­cul­ty at all in hav­ing cor­dial rela­tions between the peoples….But…

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Announcing “Churchill and the Avoidable War”

Announcing “Churchill and the Avoidable War”

It is proper to consider the lessons of the past as a guide to similar challenges now and in the future. But as Churchill wrote: "Let no one look down on those honourable, well-meaning men whose actions are chronicled in these pages, without searching his own heart, reviewing his own discharge of public duty, and applying the lessons of the past to his future conduct."

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EU and Churchill’s Views

EU and Churchill’s Views

EU Enough! In debates about the EU (Euro­pean Union), and Britain’s June 2016 ref­er­en­dum opt­ing to leave, much mis­in­for­ma­tion was cir­cu­lat­ed on whether Churchill would be for “Brex­it” or “Remain.” The fact is, we don’t know, since no one can ask him.

Promi­nent­ly quot­ed in this con­text is a remark Churchill made to de Gaulle—at least accord­ing to de Gaulle—in Uni­ty, his 1942-44 war mem­oirs: “…each time we must choose between Europe and the open sea, we shall always choose the open sea.”

Nothing to do with the EU

War­ren Kimball’s Churchill and Roo­sevelt: The Com­plete Cor­re­spon­dence (III, 169), nice­ly clears up this quo­ta­tion.…

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Churchill’s Choice: Hitler vs. Stalin

Churchill’s Choice: Hitler vs. Stalin

I find the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of Churchill quite dis­gust­ing. It is typ­i­cal British-Amer­i­can arro­gance to ignore the out­come of WW2 for the peo­ples of East­ern Europe, not to speak of the Ger­mans. Churchill knew from the begin­ning about the ter­ri­ble fate of the Rus­sians and many oth­er East Euro­pean peo­ples under Bol­she­vist dic­ta­tor­ship. He obvi­ous­ly didn’t care. He was obsessed with anti-Ger­man hatred. Know­ing that he bombed Ger­man cities, killing thou­sands of civil­ians long before the Ger­mans were retal­i­at­ing, makes him in my opin­ion even worse than Hitler. Why  did he go into alliance with Stal­in against the Ger­mans?…

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Grace Hamblin, Total Churchillian

Grace Hamblin, Total Churchillian

Remem­ber­ing Grace: 1908-2002

Beloved by all Churchills, Grace Ham­blin died at her home in West­er­ham, Kent, aged 94. Aware she was ail­ing, I had just sent her some lit­tle thing in the post; Car­ole Ken­wright at Chartwell said it arrived in time, and she was able to read from it for a few minutes.

Grace Ham­blin was the longest serv­ing and most loy­al­ly devot­ed of Churchill’s inner cir­cle, arriv­ing at Chartwell in 1932 as an assis­tant to then-prin­ci­pal pri­vate sec­re­tary Vio­let Pear­man. She spent vir­tu­al­ly her entire career as pri­vate sec­re­tary, first to Win­ston and from 1939 to Clemen­tine. In 1966 she became the first Admin­is­tra­tor of Chartwell, serv­ing through 1973. In…

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The Duke of Marlborough 1926-2014

The Duke of Marlborough 1926-2014

The Eleventh Duke: Memories. 13 April 1926 – 16 October 2014

“You shouldn’t call him ‘Your Grace,’ you know.”

It was 2005. Lady Soames was coach­ing me on a let­ter to her cousin the Duke of Marl­bor­ough. It was to ask (again) for the lease (at a friend-of-the-fam­i­ly dis­count) of the Great Hall at Blenheim Palace. Anoth­er black tie din­ner crown­ing anoth­er Churchill Tour.

“What should I call him, then? I can’t call him ‘Sun­ny,’ as you do!” (The fam­i­ly nick­name stemmed from one of the Duke’s ear­ly titles, Earl of Sun­der­land.)

“Of course not. But ‘Your Grace’ is too for­mal, or for ser­vants.…

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