“WWII scholar John Kelly triumphs again” (Vanity Fair) in this remarkably vivid account of a key moment in Western history: The critical six months in 1940 when Winston Churchill debated whether England should fight Nazi Germany—and then decided to “never surrender.”
London in April, 1940, is a place of great fear and conflict. The Germans have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. The Nazi war machine now menaces Britain, even as America remains uncommitted to providing military aid. Should Britain negotiate with Germany? The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, and are divided. Churchill, leading the faction to fight, and Lord Halifax, cautioning that prudence is the way to survive, attempt to usurp one another by any means possible. In Never Surrender, we feel we are alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire, and perhaps, the world.
Drawing on the War Cabinet papers, other government documents, private diaries, newspaper accounts, and memoirs, historian John Kelly tells the story of the summer of 1940. Kelly takes readers from the battlefield to Parliament, to the government ministries, to the British high command, to the desperate Anglo-French conference in Paris and London, to the American embassy in London, and to life with the ordinary Britons. We see Churchill seize the historical moment and ultimately inspire his government, military, and people to fight. Kelly brings to life one of the most heroic moments of the twentieth century and intimately portrays some of its largest players—Churchill, Lord Halifax, Hitler, FDR, Joe Kennedy, and others. Never Surrender is a fabulous, grand narrative of a crucial period in World War II and the men and women who shaped it. “For lovers of minute-by-minute history, it’s a feast” (Huffington Post).
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About the Author
John Kelly specializes in narrative history. He is the author of The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People; The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death; The Most Devastating Plague of all Time; Three on the Edge; and more. Kelly lives in New York City and Sandisfield, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
1 Never Again 1
2 Again 29
3 Europe in Winter 57
4 Searching for Something Spectacular 79
5 Chamberlain Misses the Bus 105
6 The Rogue Elephant 129
7 "There Faded Away This Noise Which Was a Great Army" 149
8 A Certain Eventuality 169
9 The Italian Approach 195
10 "Good Morning, Death" 213
11 "We Were No Longer One" 233
12 End of the Affair 269
13 Land of Hope and Glory 295
Photo Credits 345