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Winston Churchill's leadership during World War II allowed Britain and Europe to escape the threat of a Nazi take-over. However, the author of this book claims that he also made serious blunders which he later tried to cover up and reveals secrets unmentioned in the official war histories.
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A judicious if somewhat clotted popular history of Churchill's wartime leadership, by British historian Lamb (The Drift to War, 1991, etc.). Lamb is particularly adept at uncovering errors that have crept into the historical record because of the dominance of Churchill's own account of the war, which arose not only from his six-volume history but also from his insistence, after he became PM in 1951, that he approve all references in the official histories to his wartime decisions. There are, Lamb contends, many instances of Churchill's sanitizing references to his leadership, and of official historians refusing to consider critical drafts that they knew would anger the PM. ``Almost his biggest wartime error,'' says Lamb, was Churchill's refusal to accept the assurances of the French navy that it would not permit French ships to fall into German hands. His bombardment of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir was done against the advice of the Admiralty, turned most of the French forces against Britain, and led to significant British casualties. Another error that has received too little attention by historians was Churchill's insistence on the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. The fear felt by Churchill that any suggestion of negotiations might weaken British resolve or cause Stalin to make a separate peace seems inadequate when compared to the large additional casualties sustained by the Allies as a result of their refusal to contemplate terms. Overall, though, Churchill emerges here--for all his impetuosity and inclination to dissipate resources rather than to concentrate on important objectives--as the soul of British resistance, and his judgment, so often questioned, looks good even in the easy light of hindsight. A bit short on reflection and analysis, and containing errors likely to dismay an American audience (e.g., that Truman, who fought in France during WW I, had never been overseas)--but revealing at times, and covering a subject of enduring fascination. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Lamb, a Churchill admirer, has written an instructive study of the British prime minister's wartime mistakes and questionable directives. His greatest blunder, according to Lamb ( The Drift to War ), was the 1940 order to sink the French fleet at Mersel-Kebir, which indirectly led to thousands of British casualties in the subsequent Syrian campaign. He also discusses Churchill's decision to shuttle a high proportion of British Middle East forces to Greece in 1941 and his weakening of the British outpost in Malaya by sending tanks and planes to Russia. Lamb examines Churchill's cavalier treatment of his field generals and the extraordinary influence upon him of the incompetent Adm. Roger Keyes, head of Combined Operations. Lamb also uncovers from the archives several instances in which Churchill later attempted to "sanitize" the offical record: he falsely claimed, for instance, that the Mers-el-Kebir decision was strongly supported by the War Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff. Despite Churchill's impetuous wartime operations, a few of which boomeranged badly, Lam believes that only one verdict is possible: Winston Churchill was a great war leader. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1993. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0747514852