I grew up with an intense love for history, especially military history. History was always a strong point in school, and I can remember constantly being terrorized for my constant reading while in the Marines. Between my love of reading and love of history, I jumped at the opportunity to read some books offered by the Naval Institute. One of the books offered was Churchill’s Phoney War by Graham T. Clews.
Anyone with even a little knowledge of history knows Churchill as the Bulldog, but the average look into history provides little more than a romanticized picture of Churchill holding England together against the German onslaught. This book knocks away bits of that foolish ideology, namely by discussing many of the mistakes and misguided plans of Churchill during the Phoney War – from grossly miscalculating how dangerous the U-Boat threat was and how ineffective British forces were at combating the threat to mistakes made in Norway, and more.
I had many misconceptions about Churchill’s leadership during the War. This book served to disprove most of them, and while it did attempt to bring some level of unbiased explanation for some mistakes made, it certainly painted Churchill in a far dimmer light than I had viewed him in before opening this book. Knowing him as The Bulldog should have made it easy to realize that his indomitable attitude also made it hard for his peers to work with him. His will to stick to an idea or plan is regarded as one of his most notable qualities, but it also proved to be one of his greatest faults when he refused to give up an idea that was doomed to fail.
This book contained a tremendous amount of historical data; the footnotes alone went on for dozens of pages. Something I never considered, or rather something I never learned in school, were the details around decision making. Churchill may have been more willing to cooperate with his staff, or at the least not be so bullheaded about pet projects of his own, if he had taken a step back and looked at things with a wider view. Churchill seemed to throw the advice of his military leaders and all logic to the side in a vain attempt to prove he knew better than they did. Often these occasions ended in failure, but the author did provide insight into how Churchill may not be completely at fault for every failure discussed.
This was a hard read, and it took a lot longer than it should have. I am not entirely certain I can create an honest and accurate review of this book. For all my love of history and reading, I found myself constantly needing to look up terms or titles used or even forcing myself to continue reading, and re-reading, when the content seemed too dry. This book is not for the casual history lover or reader. I thought that with half a dozen extra history courses in college I would have a stronger grasp on the content involved. I was very wrong. This book should be read by minds much more historically learned than mine. If you possess a love of reading and only a casual, or even a slightly above average, interest in historical works, you may be better off looking elsewhere. This book is for someone with a desire for an extreme focus on the miscalculated actions of Churchill during the events of the Phoney War.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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