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Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940 (Hardcover)
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A remarkably vivid account of a key moment in Western history: The critical six months in 1940 when Winston Churchill debated whether the British would fight Hitler.
London in April, 1940, was a place of great fear and conflict. Everyone was on edge; civilization itself seemed imperiled. The Germans are marching. They have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. They now menace Britain. Should Britain negotiate with Germany? The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, lose their control, 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. Their country is on the line. And, in Never Surrender, we feel we are alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire.
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—the months of the “Supreme Question” of whether or not the British were to surrender. Impressive in scope and attentive to detail, 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. He brings to life one of the most heroic moments of the twentieth century and intimately portrays some of its largest players—Churchill, Lord Halifax, FDR, Joe Kennedy, Hitler, Stalin, and others. Never Surrender is a fabulous, grand narrative of a crucial period in World War II history and the men and women who shaped it.
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.
Praise for Never Surrender
"WWII scholar John Kelly triumphs again with Never Surrender."
“For lovers of minute-by-minute history, [NEVER SURRENDER] is a feast.”
“With his masterly touch at bringing history alive, John Kelly makes his readers feel as though they are in anxious London during the fateful days of 1940. Never Surrender brims with dozens of illuminating scenes accompanying the unforgettable presence of Winston Churchill and his indomitable will.”
— David Maraniss, author of Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story
"A glorious book."
— Simon Winchester, author of Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers
"This is an outstanding, gripping read by a popular historian. It blends colorful biographies, pungent anecdotes and a solid grasp of the great strategic issues that weighed on decision-makers in 1940.'
— Geoffrey Wawro, author of A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire
Kelly's fastidiously researched narrative begins in 1919, when the British were coming to grips with mourning the dead of World War I, and concludes with Britain's heroic stand against the Nazis in the summer of 1940. His description of the major events of the interwar era—the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, and the desperate diplomacy to avoid war in 1939—flows smoothly despite reams of detail. The author successfully balances the big picture with stories of persons who range from Count Ciano, the foreign minister of Italy to a British soldier waiting to be evacuated from Dunkirk.
“An intense and often surprising account of what it was like for the leaders, soldiers and citizens of Britain…[John Kelly] brings the Fateful Summer alive in all its fear and trembling.”
"Impressive in scope but attentive to detail...Never Surrender is a character-driven narrative of a crucial period in World War II history and the men and women who shaped it."