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This book took quite some courage for me to listen to, because I am an admirer of Winston Churchill. And I simply was not looking forward to a tirade on Churchill, or tolerating another typical doggone liberal revisionist "history." I was born in Britain a long, long time ago, I should explain, so I have a deep prejudice in Winston's favor.
Mr. Buchanan has written a kind of meta-analysis of World Wars I and II that should be a milestone history of the World Wars of the 20th century, where 50,000,000 people died. By meta-analysis, I mean he summarizes histories by, yes, Winston Churchill, Barbara Tuchman, AJP Taylor, George Kenon, and quotes Churchill's contemporaries so they do not seem quite the dolts that Churchill and his biographers characterize them as.
In fact, if I were a history major again, I would never accept a professor who had not read this book and who claimed it was "nothing." Because this book shows that the history books on these wars were written upside down.
I cannot begin to summarize this book (it has 1300 citations, by the way). But Churchill's part in these wars (understanding WW I got us WWII) began with a secret agreement to bring England to war in defense of France (so secret in fact that only Edward Grey knew of it on England's side). Winston usurped his own government's prerogative! (Sorry for the excitement.) To simplify, thus World War.
This book is an eye opener. I recommend it. You might be shocked when you listen to/read this book. Read some of the reviews on Amazon.com.
42 of 54 people found this review helpful
A lengthy and modern discourse on the history of modern Europe leading into WW2. It is said that the victors of any war write the history as they want it remembered and certainly the allies did that after both world wars. Buchanan is prepared to contend with British propaganda and thank Heaven for that. However he does not go as far as he ought. He discusses causes in terms of political cowardice, dishonesty and hype but he fails to consider the imperatives of oil, economics and finance that interested Churchill. Nor does he question the role of Churchill and his allies in white anting Chamberlain and his accord with Hitler, making it impossible for the accord to work. There is still a great deal more history to be disclosed. Nevertheless, Buchanen gives us a good and wide ranging discussion that is very easy on the ear and enriches the stories we already know by his willingness to bark at sacred cows.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful
From the moment I read the provocative cover, until I finished listening..I was completely spellbound. I had not connected the author as the hard right american presidential nominee who opened Bushs(senior)'92 republican congress. I thought I was listening to a Leon Trotsky refusniks analysis,. Hindsight is 20/20 vision but that does not mean we shouldn't take a cold hard look. Spanning both conflgrations the depth and breadth of the scholarship is impressive but the conclusions incendiary! Most hagiographies of Churchill concede his love of cordite and gunsmoke at the expense of a more measured strategic response. Buchanan asserts the heresy that Churchill was the wrong man at at the wrong time. Buchanan makes the argument that it could all have been different if Hitler (as the Soviet union was post WW2) could have been contained and his eastern expansion would have been checked by that other monster Stalin at great expense to both tyrants. Most standard WW2 histories will acknowledge the irony that the democracies were saved by communisms mercilous prosicution of the eastern war. Buchanan asserts that the war in the west was the wrong war at the wrong time for the western democracies. Britain went to war for Poland, and subsequently abandonded her to a monstrous communist regime (the Katyn forest, to mention one maasacre) under the guise of realpolitik (which wiould have been better employed in '39. Buchanan's analysis of Hitlers designs on Checkoslovakia and Danzig and Memel in will surprise many and were regarded at the time as reasonable territorial claims(though not the methods). Listen, be infuriated, perplexed, the starkness of the heresy and its legacies to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Uncomfortable, fascinating, illuminating, unmissable.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is a revisionist polemic rather than a balanced work of historical research. Buchanan begins with a premise and then doggedly and relentlessly sets out to prove it, marshalling an impressive but selective array of quotations along the way. His premise is that Britain had no real need to participate in either World War and that by doing so transformed each war into a world-wide rather than a contained European conflict. Britain?s actions (largely brought about by the demonic influence of Winston Churchill in both instances) led to the deaths of millions, the destruction of the British Empire, and the Cold War between the two super-powers left standing after the shooting had stopped.
The book has some interesting sections. The detailed criticism of the iniquities of the post-World War I Versailles Treaty is particularly devastating, and is probably the best part of the book. Buchanan comes across as a passionate captain of a debating team who is only interested in advancing his own arguments while minimizing or suppressing the counter-arguments of his opponents. As a result, the book ultimately fails to convince.
There is no original research and all sources are secondary, i.e. borrowings from the works of others, and selected borrowings at that. Among the writers cited are Barbara Tuchman, George Kennan, Churchill himself, William Shirer, Neil Ferguson, Richard Evans, Ian Kershaw, and several dozen others. A visit to some of the works of the historians cited will show that their authors came up with conclusions rather at odds with those of Buchanan. Oh well, never mind. As a former speechwriter for others and then a politician in his own right, Buchanan probably enjoyed himself tremendously while writing this book. Since he merely had a bash at the Brits (primarily Churchill) and didn?t do anything really dangerous such as denying the Holocaust, he will probably get away with it. The bad part is that some gullible people might actually believe him!
5 of 9 people found this review helpful