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The Gathering Storm
Patriotic as Churchill was, he managed to maintain a balanced impartiality in his description of the war. What is perhaps most interesting, and what lends the work its tension and emotion, is Churchill´s inclusion of a significant amount of primary material. We hear his retrospective analysis of the war, to be sure, but we are also presented with memos, letters, orders, speeches, and telegrams that give a day-by-day account of the reactions - both mistaken and justified - to the unfolding drama. Strategies and counterstrategies develop to respond to Hitler´s ruthless conquest of Europe, his planned invasion of England, and his treacherous assault on Russia. It is a mesmerizing account of the crucial decisions that have to be made with imperfect knowledge and an awareness that the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
The Gathering Storm is the first volume of The Second World War. In some ways a continuation of The World Crisis, Churchill´s history of World War I, The Gathering Storm is his attempt to come to grips with the terrible circumstances that gave rise to Nazi Germany and a second, even more destructive world conflict. As he notes in his preface, Churchill was perhaps the only person who held such prominent positions of power in both world wars, so he is remarkably well-qualified to tell the tragic story of war to peace to war. The Gathering Storm considers the stipulations and consequences of the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Adolf Hitler, the capitulation at Munich and the entry of the British into the war. The volume is pervaded by Churchill´s somber feeling that the Second World War was largely a senseless and avoidable conflict, but it sets the stage for the heroism and glory that are to follow.
Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 due in no small part to this awe-inspiring work.