New Churchill Documents, Vol. 19, “Fateful Questions”

New Churchill Documents, Vol. 19, “Fateful Questions”

DocumentsThe longest biog­ra­phy in his­to­ry takes a long step to com­ple­tion with pub­li­ca­tion of  The Churchill Doc­u­ments, Vol. 19, Fate­ful Ques­tions, Sep­tem­ber 1943-April 1944. (Order your copy here). Fas­tid­i­ous­ly com­piled by the late Sir Mar­tin Gilbert and edit­ed by Dr. Lar­ry Arnn, these 2700 pages serve up anoth­er fresh con­tri­bu­tion of doc­u­ments cru­cial to our under­stand­ing of Churchill in World War II. It is a vast new con­tri­bu­tion to Churchill schol­ar­ship.

Win­ston S. Churchill, the offi­cial biog­ra­phy con­sists of eight nar­ra­tive vol­umes and now nine­teen com­pan­ion or doc­u­ment vol­umes, all kept in print and offered at mod­est prices as both hard­back and elec­tron­ic edi­tions.

There are four more to go and the “great work” will be com­plete, at thir­ty-one total vol­umes. Vol­ume 20 (lat­er this year), will take us through the 1945 elec­tion. Vol­umes 21-23 will cov­er the oppo­si­tion years 1945-51, the sec­ond pre­mier­ship 1951-55, and the finale 1955-65. The Great Work will be fin­ished by 2019. We will cel­e­brate in sev­er­al unique ways.

Documents 1943-44

The doc­u­ments take the read­er from the Allied inva­sion of Italy to the first Big Three con­fer­ence at Teheran, Russ­ian suc­cess­es on the East­ern Front, fraught argu­ments over tac­tics and strat­e­gy as the Allies began clos­ing in on Nazi Ger­many.  The third of four com­pan­ion vol­umes to Gilbert’s nar­ra­tive Vol­ume 7, Fate­ful Ques­tions takes us to the eve of  D-Day: the inva­sion of France in June 1944.

I played just a bit part as one of the edi­tors-perusers of this gigan­tic screed. The real thanks are owed to Soren Geiger and our Churchill stu­dent Asso­ciates, grad­u­ate and under­grad­u­ate, who start­ed with Mar­tin Gilbert’s “wodges” of documents–virtually one wodge for each day of Churchill’s life.

They sep­a­rat­ed the wheat from the chaff, labo­ri­ous­ly researched the exten­sive foot­notes iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple, places and things, and put a smooth draft in front of us.
And then, over­all, a great debt is owed the edi­tor-in-chief, Hills­dale Pres­i­dent Lar­ry Arnn, for the deter­mi­na­tion and effort to fin­ish Mar­tin Gilbert’s mon­u­men­tal work, in the way Sir Mar­tin him­self would have–leaving out noth­ing of sub­stance. (And the elec­tron­ic edi­tion will be a huge assist to researchers.)
As Gilbert’s researcher back in the 1970s, Dr. Arnn heft­ed an enor­mous Doc­u­ment Vol­ume and joked, “You know, only about 20 peo­ple are going to read this cov­er to cov­er!” Mar­tin replied: “Makes no dif­fer­ence. The impor­tant thing is that the doc­u­ments are there—and nobody will be able to write author­i­ta­tive about these sub­jects in future with­out con­sult­ing them.” I always thought this cap­tured the true essence of the work. Actu­al­ly, quite a few read­ers tell me they do read it cov­er to cov­er!
Over the next few weeks sev­er­al schol­ars will post arti­cles focus­ing on inter­est­ing aspects of 1943-44 in the Churchill saga, brought out by the new vol­ume. Stay tuned and sub­scribe.
For a sam­pling of the ingre­di­ents, click here:

2 thoughts on “New Churchill Documents, Vol. 19, “Fateful Questions”

  1. Did I answer you? Sor­ry if missed, was trav­el­ing.
    There are sev­er­al sources but the offi­cial biog­ra­phy and the rel­e­vant doc­u­ment vol­ume are as good as any.
    There is a lot of con­spir­a­cy rub­bish pub­lished on the sub­ject also.

  2. Look­ing for mate­r­i­al in this col­lec­tion on the Rudolf Hess affair. How would you sug­gest I find it?

    I wrote Lar­ry on some of the things I have found on this that will be quite dif­fer­ent than the cur­rent line of think­ing. Hap­py to fill you in if you wish.

    Give me an email address if you wish.

    I am the for­mer CEO of sev­er­al pub­lish­ing hous­es as well as a for­mer prof at NYT and William and Mary and a founder of 2 non­prof­its.

    Con­grat­u­la­tions on all the fine work you have done on this impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion.

    Tom 646-625-9700

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