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Triumph and Tragedy
One of the most fascinating works of history ever written, Winston Churchill´s monumental The Second World War is a six-volume account of the struggle of the Allied powers in Europe against Germany and the Axis. Told through the eyes of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, The Second World War is also the story of one nation´s singular, heroic role in the fight against tyranny. Pride and patriotism are evident everywhere in Churchill´s dramatic account and for good reason. Having learned a lesson at Munich that they would never forget, the British refused to make peace with Hitler, defying him even after France had fallen and after it seemed as though the Nazis were unstoppable. Churchill remained unbowed throughout, as did the people of Britain in whose determination and courage he placed his confidence.
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 sixth and final volume of The Second World War, Triumph and Tragedy documents with moving, dramatic detail the endgame of the war and the uneasy meetings between Churchill, Stalin, and Truman convening to discuss the plan for rebuilding Europe in the aftermath of such upheaval and devastation. The volume opens with the Normandy invasion, and Churchill recalls with evident admiration and relief the heroic landing of the redoubtable Allied armies as they effect the most remarkable amphibious operation in military history. Through Churchill´s recollections as well as his correspondence with Stalin, Roosevelt, Truman and others, we are given an insider´s perspective into such signal events as the liberation of Paris, the death of Hitler, and the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.
The "tragedy" of the title points to the mistrust and hostility that arose between the victorious forces in the wake of the Second World War. Churchill watches as the uneasy coalition that knit themselves together to put down the Axis threat begins to fray at Potsdam. From his vantage point, writing only a few years after the close of the war, Churchill describes the birth of the Cold War with dismay, fervently hoping that a greater, more destructive war is not on the horizon.
Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 due in no small part to this awe-inspiring work.