The Washington Post
Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941by Ian Kershaw
The newest immensely original undertaking from the historian who gave us the defining two-volume portrait of Hitler, Fateful Choices puts Ian Kershaw?s analytical and storytelling gifts on dazzling display. From May 1940 to December 1941, the leaders of the world?s six major powers made a series of related decisions that determined the final outcome of World War II and shaped the course of human destiny. As the author examines the connected stories of these profound choices, he restores a sense of drama and contingency to this pivotal moment, producing one of the freshest, most important books on World War II in years?one with powerful contemporary relevance.
The Washington Post
Tracing the thought processes behind crucial turning points in WWII's most crucial 19 months, Kershaw, the author of a major biography of Hitler and professor of modern history at the University of Sheffield, reminds us that nothing in that titanic struggle was predetermined. Events might have run a very different course had Great Britain decided to negotiate peace with Hitler in June 1940, or if Japan had attacked the Soviet Union from the east as Germany invaded from the west in June 1941. Kershaw shows that Germany's war on two fronts and Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor, though ultimately disastrous for those countries, were the results of chains of reasoning based on political and military goals, however despicable. Though the author makes deep, intelligent use of archival materials, he provides little new information. Rather, his analysis focuses on the structure of decision making and its consequences. Kershaw depicts Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union as severely hampered by one man giving the orders, getting input only from subordinates too fearful to say anything he didn't want to hear. The slower democratic process enabled many voices to be heard and better informed judgments to be made by Churchill and Roosevelt. This subtext adds a note of hope to a text depicting one of humanity's darkest periods. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 8.34(w) x 5.36(h) x 1.40(d)
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- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Ian Kershaw,author of The End, Fateful Choices,and Making Friends with Hitler,is a British historian of twentieth-century Germany noted for his monumental biographies of Adolf Hitler. In 2002 he received his knighthood for Services to History. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Royal Historical Society, of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung in Bonn.
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British historian Ian Kershaw uses his talents and reputation to great effect in 'Fateful Choices,' in which he examines ten key decisions made by the major world leaders between May of 1940 (Churchill and his War Cabinet decide to fight on) and December of 1941 (Hitler decides to wipe out Europe's Jews). These decisions affected the course of World War II, and the world we live in today. Kershaw painstakingly examined archives and libraries worldwide to get into the choices made by the leaders of Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Soviet Union, and the United States. By presenting them as these leaders would have viewed it, Kershaw focused the reader on what was apparent from the particular leaders in the particular time, rather than on what other leaders were thinking or on 'what if' speculating. This is a volume that deserves reading by anyone interested in the history of the 20th Century, including World War II. This was my first experience with Kershaw's work, but it won't be the last.
I'm always on the lookout for new perspective on subjects as extensively researched and discussed as WWII. Kershaw provides it. And creates a compelling and dramatic narrative in the process. It's fascinating to think how many world-changing choices were made in so short a span.