Hitler, Mussolini and Japan posed a terrible threat to Britain and its empire. With America withdrawn into isolationism and Stalin's Russia hostile to the West, it is hardly surprising that Britain strove to sustain peace for as long as possible by the traditional tools of diplomacy and accommodation. Stigmatised as 'Appeasement', this has often been held to be a bankrupt policy, epitomised by Chamberlain's Munich Agreement in 1938, handing over the Sudetenland. Hitler and Appeasement: The British Attempt to Prevent the Second World War shows, in contrast, that many of the government's policies were reasonable and well thought out; nor did ministers ignore rearmament. After the appalling experiences of the First World War, no one in Britain wished to be in another war. It was only the unpredictable catastrophes of the Russo-German agreement of 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940 that cast Appeasement into disrepute, leaving stains on the reputations of Baldwin and Chamberlain that are little deserved.
About the Author:
Dr Peter Neville is a Research Fellow in History at Kingston University