Their Finest Hour by Winston S. Churchill Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

Their Finest Hour (The Second World War, #2)

Winston Churchill’s six-volume history of the cataclysm that swept the world remains the definitive history of the Second World War. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable both for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction and is an enduring, compelling work that led to his being awarded the Nobel P

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    Manny

    Nov 24, 2008

    rated it
    it was amazing

    The bit from the second volume that everyone quotes is “We will fight them on the beaches”. Well, I love that too, but my very favourite phrase is a less well-known one: “Tanks for Africa!” I know, it doesn’t sound particularly inspiring. But it is, when you know the background, and I’ve said it to myself many times when things have looked bad. Let me fill you in on the story.

    Due to Britain’s criminally inept preparation (see the first volume), World War II has gotten off to a catastrophic start

    Due to Britain’s criminally inept preparation (see the first volume), World War II has gotten off to a catastrophic start. The rest of Europe has fallen to the Nazis, who are still uneasily allied with the Soviet Union. The United States dithers on the sidelines, while FDR tries to convince people that this is also their fight. Meanwhile, Hitler’s next move will be to try and invade Britain. He starts with a crushing air offensive.

    Under these circumstances, the obvious thing to do would have been to put all our resources into defence. After all, the Germans were so close to breaking through! But Churchill made a far-seeing strategic decision. Defence wasn’t enough: if we managed to survive this bit, it was essential to be able to counter-attack later on. He gave orders to send tanks to Egypt, where there was a chance of halting the Axis advance in the North African desert.

    I thought his judgement here was little short of miraculous. It worked out exactly as he had hoped: the brave fighter pilots of the RAF managed to win the Battle of Britain, and the German invasion was cancelled. The Allied foothold in Egypt also held, and it was possible to consolidate it before the Axis could pour in more troops and armour. Eventually, this allowed the Allies to march as far as Tunisia, and then invade Southern Europe through Sicily and Italy.

    So, indeed, “We will fight them on the beaches” is very fine. It perfectly expresses the spirit of never surrendering, irrespective of the odds against you. But calmly assuming that we’re going to get through this situation, no matter how desperate it is, and then planning for what we’re going to do next – that’s truly inspiring. “Tanks for Africa!”

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