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Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of WWII

( 9 )


An intimate, and sure to be controversial, look at the wartime triumphs and failures of Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of World War II examines the decisions and policies Churchill made in the vital months between June 1940 and December 1941. While Churchill is rightly credited with recognizing the Nazi threat early on, his myriad decisions hindered the Allied cause more than they helped it. From dispatching British troops to North Africa and Greece and ...

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An intimate, and sure to be controversial, look at the wartime triumphs and failures of Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of World War II examines the decisions and policies Churchill made in the vital months between June 1940 and December 1941. While Churchill is rightly credited with recognizing the Nazi threat early on, his myriad decisions hindered the Allied cause more than they helped it. From dispatching British troops to North Africa and Greece and establishing the Special Operations Executive, to insisting on the Mediterranean's importance to victory and ignoring George C. Marshall's plan that could have won the war in 1943, Churchill's directives not only extended the conflict, but destabilized several regions that have remained in chaos even at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

With profound insight into Churchill's early colonial experiences as well as his first tenure as First Lord of the Admiralty, Christopher Catherwood offers an honest appraisal of his strategies in a unique and fascinating perspective that separates the myth from the man.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616814335
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Catherwood teaches history at Cambridge University and the University of Richmond (Virginia). A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he served as a consultant to the Strategy Unit of Tony Blair's cabinet, working in the Admiralty Building where Winston Churchill was based as First Lord of the Admiralty.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Setting the Scene 1

1 Stopping Hitler in 1938: When Churchill Got It Right 11

2 Britain Alone and Churchill's Fatal Error 51

3 Getting to Know One Another 97

4 Churchill and the War's Wrong Turn 101

5 Waiting for Winston 147

6 Churchill Finally Has to Give In 197

7 Churchill and America at War 233

Epilogue: How Things Might Have Been Very Different 265

Acknowledgments 283

Notes 293

Index 313

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Too awful to be endured

    It is the most repetetive book I have ever read. Catherwood seems to make the same point twenty times in every chapter. His use of parenthetical phrases is, if I may digress, which I can because, as the poet said, "He who can't digress is at a loss", but I digress, distracting if not, to use the vernacular, maddening! Catherwood's book could be condensed to twenty pages, or even one paragraph: Churchill completely misunderstood mechanized warfare, and never fully grasped America's power and Britain's puniness. He was a scattershot general who played on Roosevelt's desire to be seen fighting Germans ASAP to put off Marshall's brilliant plan for a massive invasion of France. Churchill delayed D-Day by two years, costing countless millions of lives and ensuring that the Soviets would overrun half of Europe. Catherwood's book reads like a "publish or perish" assignment written over a summer holiday, Christmas even.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2011

    Another historian with 20/20 hindsight vision

    Catherwood's review of Churchill's wartime performance provides a good review of current writings by other other authors, and adopts a realistic approach towards explaining why the sub-title refers to Winston as a "flawed" genius. It falls somewhat short on justifying the "genius" part. He rightly highlights the staggering price in human lives paid by those participating in the war on the eastern front, not shying away from adding that Stalin happily (?) added a few more millions during his "purges".

    Sadly, Catherwood excludes an aspect from his analysis (which could also have been entitled: why, because of Churchill, the war took a year longer and the Holocaust claimed at least another million victims) that should have been included, namely: would the devastating bombing of civilian targets in Germany have been necessary (and the resulting loss of life avoided) if Churchill had not prevaricated with his insistence on indirect attacks in Sicily, the Balkans, and Norway, thus allowing an earlier D-Day invasion on less fortified beachfronts with less German troops?

    Whilst Catherwood accepts (hence the "flawed" genius title) that Churchill's reluctance to allow US troops to attack German troops in or near Germany effectively allowed Stalin to march across parts of Europe and force them to embrace communism (or be shot) which could have been avoided if Marshall had had his way (with an earlier D-Day invasion), the "genius" part of the subtitle becomes even less persuasive given the fact that Churchill's inability (or unwillingness) to consider post-war strategies effectively led to the creation of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War.

    Having said this, 20/20 hindsight vision (to which many historians succumb) is no major achievement, and the question that Catherwood might have given preference in his analysis is whether, based on the facts as they were known at the material time, Churchill's conduct of the war (or perhaps we should say: participation) would have allowed, if not called for, different decisions. Here, Catherwood leaves us in limbo, citing on the one hand Churchill's memories of the human sacrifices in the trenches of WWI, the "English" preference for avoiding direct conflict and instead act in a round-about way, and on the other hand his inability to realize that US troops were not toys he could play around with at will to preserve the glory of the English empire.

    Catherwood's writing is easy to follow, although at times a trifle convoluted. His narrative stays on course for most of the time, although it is in parts repetitive and includes, despite editing, somewhat irritating sentence openers such as "As we shall see later..."

    In all, whilst Catherwood falls short in his quest to justify his book's subtitle, he makes a good and honest attempt at removing at least some of the falsely attributed glory, shaking Churchill's pedestal vigorously without toppling the statue resting on it. Eliminating the repetitions, the book could easily have been shrunk from 282 pages to a more concise and pointed 200 pages, and keep the reader more focused.

    Nevertheless, despite its shortfalls, a worthy read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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