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The Grand Alliance

The Grand Alliance
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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 Grand Alliance, the third volume of this work, describes the end of an extraordinary period in British military history in which that country stood virtually alone against the German onslaught. Two crucial events bring about the end of Britain´s isolation and prove key turning points in the war against Hitler. The first is Hitler´s well-documented decision to attack the Soviet Union, opening up a battle front in the East. Stalin, who a few months earlier had been making plans with Hitler to carve up the British Empire between them, now finds himself looking to the British for support and entreating Churchill to open up a second front in France. Churchill includes the fascinating correspondence between himself and the Russian leader.

The second event is the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into the war. U.S. support had long been seen as crucial to the British war effort, and Churchill documents his efforts to draw the Americans to the aid of their allies across the ocean, including his direct correspondence with President Roosevelt. The attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, changes everything, and soon after the British began coordinate their efforts against Nazi Germany with the cooperation of the United States. The Grand Alliance is formed.

Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 due in no small part to this awe-inspiring work.

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