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Churchill 1940-1945 Under Friendly Fire by Walter Reid

Churchill 1940-1945 Under Friendly Fire

History   Biography / Autobiography   
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Sue Baker's view...

Churchill’s gift for words as a speaker and a writer – “we will fight them on the beaches”...”we will not give in”...and most tellingly “history will be kind to me for I intend to write it” has given us a somewhat one sided view of his part as the war leader of the nation. Here Walter Reid shows just how much Churchill was hampered and hemmed in on all sides, as Reid says, if it wasn’t his own Generals or Parliament, it was the Free French and the most daunting of all, the Americans who had to be either confronted or wooed. And its these confrontations and battles that Reid concentrates on in this most revealing history.

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The Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-1945, Max Hastings
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Churchill 1940-1945 Under Friendly Fire by Walter Reid

In April 1945, Churchill said to Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 'There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them!' When he became Prime Minister on 10 May 1940 Churchill was without allies. Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain saved Britain from immediate defeat, but it was evident that Britain alone could never win the war. Churchill looked to America. He said that until Pearl Harbor 'no lover ever studied every whim of his mistress as I did those of President Roosevelt'. But would Roosevelt have entered the war if Pearl Harbor had not taken place? Until then his actions were ambivalent, and even afterwards America's policy was largely shaped by self-interest and her idea of what a post-war world should be like.Lend-Lease, for instance, was far from what Churchill publicly described as 'the most unsordid act in the history of any nation', but rather a tool of American policy. Churchill's account of relations with his allies and associates was sanitised for the historical record and has been accepted uncritically. In reality he had to battle with the generals and the CIGS, Tory backbenchers and the War Cabinet, de Gaulle and the Free French and - above all - the Americans. Even his wife, Clementine, could on occasions be remarkably unsupportive. He told his secretary, 'The difficulty is not in winning the war; it is in persuading people to let you win it - persuading fools'. Walter Reid, the author of several acclaimed works on 20th-century military history, brings together the result of recent research to create a powerful narrative which reveals how much time and energy was devoted to fighting the war that was excluded from the official accounts, the war with the allies.


'Magnificent. This is a meticulously researched history, but it is also a very moving human story' * The Herald *'

About the Author

Walter Reid

Walter Reid was educated at Oxford University, where he read history, and Edinburgh University. He is now based in the west of Scotland, but spends part of the year in France. His previous work includes 'To Arras, 1917' (Tuckwell Press), and the critically acclaimed biography of Douglas Haig, 'Architect of Victory' (Birlinn, 2006).

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Book Info

Publication date

20th August 2012


Walter Reid

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Birlinn Ltd an imprint of Birlinn General


416 pages


Biography / Autobiography

Second World War

20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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