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The Gathering Storm (The Second World War, Vol. 1)
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The Gathering Storm (The Second World War #1)

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  2,232 ratings  ·  150 reviews

The step-by-step decline into war, with Churchill becoming prime minister as "the tocsin was about to sound."

Hardcover, 784 pages
Published December 1st 1948 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1948)
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My favourite moment in any James Bond film occurs near the end of Octopussy. Roger Moore has figured out that the tactical nuclear weapon is hidden at the circus and is about to go off, killing hundreds of thousands of people. The event might also trigger World War III. He has a few minutes to act.

He charges into the ring during the middle of the performance, dressed as a clown, and tries to get to the bomb. The bad guys, also dressed as circus performers, do what they can to stop him. The audi...more
First, some background: I found this entire series at a garage sale in the original hardcover book-of-the-month club format for $1.00 each, and decided to give them a try. Both of the World Wars have always held a philosophical interest for me, but at the same time, I had little interest in the actual course and strategies of particular battles or in the nature of equipment and machinery used. Since these seemed to be the primary subject matter of most books about either of the wars, I have alwa...more
Mark Freckleton
I had always read that Winston Churchill was an excellent writer. I also knew that he was right in the thick of things in the history-making events for the first half of the 20th century. In fact, I had owned his set of histories for a number of years - courtesy of the Book of the Month Club. Finally I got down to reading. This is an amazingly clear and lucid account of what led to the Second World War written by someone never further from the action than a front-row seat and often in the midst...more
Winston Churchill may slowly be being forgotten as one of the twentieth century's most prolific writers. Those who learn about him today, if they hear his name at all, usually discover that he was a British Prime Minister, and little more. Even the fact that it was he who put the War Cabinet together in 1940, which managed to hold out both strategically and psychologically against Hitler, is slowly fading. "We will fight them on the beaches..." is slowly becoming merged with the sounds of popula...more
Incredibly detailed but incredibly readable and fascinating first volume of Winston Churchill's history of World War II, for most of which he served as Prime Minister of Great Britain. From the mass of notes Churchill must have kept, it's hard to believe he had time to run the nation. He has always seemed an impressive figure to me, but reading this volume has multiplied my respect for him by a factor of ten. Yet Churchill writes with confidence but virtually no braggadocio. I look forward to re...more
The Gathering Storm
Winston Churchill
Haughton Mifflin, 1948

As with many books and movies, I am driven to read or see them based on their titles. Such was the case with "The Gathering Storm". Of course, I had a good idea of what it was about, and that certainly played its part. I enjoyed the experience though, and perhaps in large part because, it was the fulfillment of a pleasure deferred for over 50 years.

Being the first of six volumes on the subject of the second World War, it covers a period,...more
I've had the goal of reading Winton Churchill's six-volume "History of World War II" for some time. I read and thoroughly enjoyed this first volume, from Mariner Books. These are among the least expensive editions. It shows in places. The typeset looks as if it has been recycled for a long time. Therefore, you read one page printed in solid, dark type and the next page looks faded. Some letters are almost completely washed out on some words, though this is very sporadic. It's easy, though, to ge...more
Cathi Davis
The Gathering Storm is the first book of a six book series written by Churchill about World War II. It is unique because the other major players--Stalin, Roosevelt, Mussolini....did not write about it. At publication is was taken as a historical work, but today it should probably be read more as a memoir.

I am on a WWII reading jag right now. This is one of the classics of the genre...the other one, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is sitting on my bookshelf, next! I also admit to being a hu...more
In high school history class I learned that the best way to learn history was by looking at primary sources to understand how the contemporaries viewed the events happening at the time. I kept that in mind when I wanted to understand World War II better and, based on some recommendations, picked up Winston Churchill. And I'm thankful I did. This book is full of insights and analysis that I never learned about in class or on the history channel. Churchill draws from his meticulous notes and speec...more
Book One of Winston's Second World War series that I am slowly (oh, so slowly) working my way through. In this volume, Churchill talks about the terms that ended World War One and how those actually helped to cause World War Two. The book also contains letters and memos from the British government prior to its plunging into war...for the most part unprepared. I was struck by the similarities to today and how America entered many countries wanting to continue to negotiate with Hussein....more
Meirav Rath
Dec 23, 2007 Meirav Rath rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs, WW2 buffs, Chruchill fans
Shelves: world-war-2
I love Churchill's writing style and his humor. Yes, he doesn't talk about absolutely everything that happened between the two world wars (his not-so-politically-correct opinion on India is conveniently nonexistent) but the highlights of the political turmoils which lead to the fascist takeover of Italy and Germany were enlightening and the downfall of Europ and the impotence of France and England to prevent the war were detailed marvelously.
I enjoy reading Churchill's Second World War series an...more
Although this volume contains many of Churchill's colorful turns of phrase (Hitler described as Moloch (the Near Eastern god with a furnace in its belly for devouring children who were sacrificed to it)--p. 71, "Great quarrels arise from small occasions but seldom from small causes."--p. 266, words of addressing Herr Hitler with "the language of the mailed fist"--p. 325, his brief rhyme on being one of a passing generation in the Admiralty (I feel like one / Who treads alone / Some banquet hall...more
Churchill writes well. There are not many writers who can construct complex sentences covering difficult subjects and do it so well, so grammatically and so enjoyably.
This would be an excellent start for anyone who wants to come to grips with the diplomatic history between the wars. Many know alls from the right tend to quote Churchill completely out of context . Churchill's warnings, of which this book is principally about, are about Germany, a large and potentially dominating power of Euro...more
This book covers the period from 1929 to 1939 before the start of WWII. It covers volumes 1 of the 6 set series. This book offered a great perspective of the war and how it could have been averted after WWI. It was interesting to read how many opportunities there were to block of the rise of the third Reich before the development of the war and the German war machine. Whether it was blocking Mussolini with his interests in Abyssinia, or the stopping of German conscription, or the retaking of the...more
Jill Hutchinson
This is Volume 1 of the Churchill series of WWII, prior and post. As a master of the English language, the Prime Minister works his magic as he puts the events leading up to the War into perspective. As Lord of the Admiralty in WWI, Churchill knew of what he spoke.....he was a participant in the defeat of Imperial Germany and an opponent of the infamous Treaty of Versailles.....a treaty which may well have led to the rise of the Nazi ideology. Sir Winston provides an insiders look at the machina...more
I really enjoyed this book, even though I took my time getting through it. Churchill takes the reader through the events leading up to WWII from his perspective within the political process and experiences in WWI. What struck me most were the discussions and positions relating to maintaining or growing defense in times of peace. He also notes many missed opportunities or underestimated warnings.

It is a fascinating read for history buffs as well as those who might want to compare the lead up to...more
I'm halfway through this now, been reading for about 2 months. Very dense. Churchill gets into the minutiae of British politics, and goes into extensive detail about the small missteps in dealing with Germany and Hitler, in the aftermath of WWI and Hitler's rise to power. It's interesting, especially if you're a history buff. But it is taking me a long time to get through; unusual since I'm normally a very fast reader.
Staggering as his achievements were, there is a recurring theme of something here that seems almost childishly misplaced among accounts of such import...not direct self-aggrandizement, thankfully, but a presentation of how Churchill saw himself as a kind of Cassandra figure between the wars, a lone voice of reason. After hitting those notes a few times, frequent italics from his writing or speeches on something that came particularly true, I started to question what his goal was in writing these...more
Doreen Petersen
Just finished reading this book and was so totally engrossed in it! Anyone who likes history will really, realy enjoy it! Would highly recommend!
This was an incredible book. It is the beginning of a six volume work on the Second World War. It was written by Winston Churchill from his own papers and experience. I don't think you often get that type of perspective from history. Especially on WWII, since Roosevelt died suddenly and Stalin wasn't about to write something as open as this book is.

This first volume summarizes the time between the wars, with an emphasis on the few years right before war broke out. The Moral and Theme of the work...more
Michael Scott
TODO: I cannot do justice to this review by completing it now, just after finishing the first volume of Sir Winston Churchill's six-volume The Second World War, but I will try to keep adding material to this. (The book was this good.) The Gathering Storm covers the longest period in the series, from the end of the First World War (1919) and the formation of the Churchill Government (May 10, 1940). The central theme of this volume, which is split into two books, is the lack of preparedness of Gre...more
Alright, so this took me 3 months to read! It was good but very text booky so I would read a couple chapters and then move on to something else and repeat. I have read a lot of WWII stories (haven't we all?) but I am usually more interested in the human side of the story so I thought it would be good to study the politics that led to war in more depth. Sometimes there was more detail on armaments than I needed. It would suffice to say that Germany was arming for war while everyone else failed to...more
Rozhodně poutavé čtení, které bohužel naráželo na moji naprostou neinformovanost o fungování válečného námořnictva - nedovedl jsem tedy ocenit popisy britských torpédoborců a křižníků (jejich výtlaků, ráže děl...), kterými Churchill začal plnit stránky knihy ve chvíli kdy skutečně začala válka.
Ovšem popis meziválečného období je napsaný brilantně a nabízí řadu paralel a varování i vůči dnešku...

Bojujeme o návrat vlády zákona a ochranu svobody malých zemí. Naše porážka by znamenala příchod věku b...more
David Webb
One of the things I'm struck by in the first chapter is the similarity between the economic situation that prevailed in 1929 and today. Excessive debt and borrowing, dealing with the financial burden from fighting the 1st world war, the conflicts between rival political parties all remind me of the current world situation.

I was also particularly struck by Churchill's comments on the futility of trying to assess reparations from the defeated powers. He noted that the efforts of the Allies to extr...more
Pamela Lamb
I actually read not just this book but each one of the six volumes which make up Churchill's epic undertaking 'The Second World War'. Having been born several years after the end of WWII I have always been curious about something of which I was very much aware during my childhood. I was brought up near the city of Liverpool in the UK which had been very heavily bombed during the war and showed the scars for many years afterwards. So I allowed Churchill to lead me through the whole thing and it w...more
This book is masterfully written in documenting the long march to war. Churchill is quick to outline his position regarding Germany and modernization of the military. Unfortunately, he was against a strong pacifist current. As Britain slowly lost its edge, it was justified through rationalizing that Britain and other allies together were stronger. Churchill documents through speeches, personal letters, as well as debates with his opponents, the unfortunate mindset that held sway and which hurt t...more
Carles Fabrego-Vinyeta
Churchill explica en aquest primer volum de la Historia de la Segona Guerra Mundial els fets polítics, socials i evidentment bèl.lics mes rellevants fins a l' 1941, fets que va conèixer de primera ma. Es tracta d'un llibre de memòries d'un polític liberal conservador que ja a la primera guerra mundial havia tingut responsabilitats al govern. Ens explica com arriba a ser primer Ministreen aquell periode tan important de la historia d'Europa i el Món, sens dubte gracies a la seva personalitat, cap...more
Matt Brown
Surprisingly enjoyable given the depth of detail and dryness of some of the subject matter. The book is part historical reference, part memoir, which I think is what rescues it, as the personal anecdotes and recollections help to lighten and give a personal aspect to what would otherwise be a relentless onslaught of facts and events.

Total reading time was 13 hours, 13 mins, spread across three weeks. I found myself skipping reading during my commutes several times because I was too tired to feel...more
Winston Churchill lost the election in the United Kingdom after the war. In retrospect, maybe that was a good thing, as he had more time to write his six volume history of WWII.

This is the first volume in which he relates how he tried to warn the world of German rearmament and spoke against the appeasement policy of the western powers. Churchill was a minor politician at that time, after his dismal record during the Great War. He was an eloquent speaker and popular author. However, his political...more
Peter Thorn
To make a trite football analogy, this is a book of two halves, in both a literal and a figurative sense. The first book, From War to War, is an account of the aftermath of the First World War, the follies of the Treaty of Versailles, and the rise of Hitler in the 1930. The second book cover September 1939 to May 1940, though doesn't really focus on the invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, but on the war at sea (as Churchill was assigned to the Admiralty) and the German invasion and...more
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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. A noted statesman, orator and strategist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army. A prolific author, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his own historical writings, "for his mastery...more
More about Winston S. Churchill...
Their Finest Hour (The Second World War, #2) My Early Life, 1874-1904 The Second World War The Birth of Britain (A History of the English Speaking Peoples, #1) The Grand Alliance (The Second World War, #3)

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“Delight in smooth sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts ... genuine love of peace and pathetic belief that love can be its sole foundation ... the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality ...though free from wickedness or evil design, played a definite part in the unleashing upon the world of horrors and miseries [WWII]” 14 likes
“All was there—the programme of German resurrection, the technique of party propaganda; the plan for combating Marxism; the concept of a National-Socialist State; the rightful position of Germany at the summit ofthe world. Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.” 6 likes
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