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The Gathering Storm (The Second World War #1)

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,322 Ratings  ·  207 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 June 1st 1948)
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Bill I don't think so. I have found it useful to read one of the standard biographies of Churchill prior to starting his 6 volume history of World War 2.…moreI don't think so. I have found it useful to read one of the standard biographies of Churchill prior to starting his 6 volume history of World War 2. Churchill was 25 years older when he wrote this history and maybe just a shade more humble than he was when he wrote the World Crisis. It is important to remember that the fact that Britain had broken the German code was still a secret when Churchill wrote the history of the Second World War.(less)
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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
Jun 20, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 11, 2012 Mark Freckleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mikey B.
Page 500 (my book)

The veils of the future are lifted one by one, and mortals must act from day to day.

Page 512

The stroke of catastrophe and the spur of peril were needed to call forth the dormant might of the British nation. The tocsin was about to sound.

I had read all six volumes of Churchill’s War Memoirs over twenty years ago – so I thought I would give them another go. I was wondering how I would take to them on a re-read.

This first one is simply wonderful, exquisite, superlative ...I could
May 23, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Dec 19, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2012 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 10, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Churchillians, World War II buffs, Diplomatic Historians
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
Few world leaders have been as competent at documenting their own contribution to world events as Winston Churchill. And few world leaders can claim as important a contribution. For those reasons alone, the series he published on the Second World War remains in print and readily available for historians and history buffs. A serious researcher will want to confirm his claims by checking primary sources, but one of the strengths of this series is the heavy use it makes of government memoranda and ...more
Meirav Rath
Dec 23, 2007 Meirav Rath rated it it was amazing  ·  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
It is in these circumstances that we entered upon that period of exhaustion which has been described as Peace. [...]It is established that henceforward whole populations will take part in war, all doing their utmost, all subjected to the fury of the enemy. it is established that nations who believe their life is at stake will not be restrained from using any means to secure their existence. it is probable - nay, certain - that among the means which will next time be at their disposal will be ag ...more
Cathi Davis
Oct 06, 2012 Cathi Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 14, 2008 Rae rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-ww2
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
Sherrie Pilkington
Sep 22, 2014 Sherrie Pilkington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Oh, pompous ass. I adore you. This is the story of how Hitler did whatever he wanted while Chamberlain asked everyone's opinions and didn't do anything.
Bob Ryan
Jan 16, 2015 Bob Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The scope of this book is very impressive. Churchill had a unique perspective on the conduct of the War, becoming Prime Minister on the day Germany invaded Belgium and Holland, May 10, 1940. Churchill begins at the end of WWI with the terms of surrender that planted the seeds that grew into the next Great War. The level of detail Churchill displays is also impressive. You would expect a history of the politics, and you get that in spades. There is very little action until the last 100 pages. But ...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
Nov 01, 2008 Johnny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Oct 08, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
When you have a book in your hands whose very subject has been so intriguing that it has gotten your curiosity by its throat, you cannot simply help deter yourself from reading it. Alas, the wish to critically and slowly read it has to be put out due to time-constraints. One cannot do justice to this series of books on the account of one of the bloodiest of wars mankind has faced, by not devoting the entire reading time to it. It constantly hurled me into the mists of history and realms of thoug ...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
Sep 05, 2015 piet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De voormalige Engelse premier Winston Churchill was ook een begaafd historicus en schrijver. Zijn waarnemingen en analyses van de jaren voorafgaande aan de tweede Wereldoorlog lezen als een trein.
Feb 12, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This initial book in Churchill's 6-volume set on the Second World War reads in part like a long, "I told you so"--but that is justified, because he did warn the British government of the mistakes it was making and the results that would occur that led to the Second World War. Churchill does a good job of separating out what was known at the time and what was discovered later. And his writing is excellent, such that I didn't care if he was telling of the disastrous Munich Pact or the number of na ...more
Jan 24, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I am listening to audio version of this series through local library. Narrated by Michael Jayston, the voice sounds similar enough to Churchill himself, that it feels like you're receiving a personal historical account of WWII from the central figure himself. It is not particularly exciting and is dry fact at many times, but well worth a listen.
Having read "The Last Lion", a more personal and fascinating account of the war, this was a great followup. I had also read "Last of the Doughboys" whic
Sep 21, 2008 Giacinta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have-read
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.
Riley Feldmann
Sep 04, 2015 Riley Feldmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my constant and never ending pursuit for the newest found book in the ever more-rapidly expanding WWII literary genre, little had I considered or even remembered the fact that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a novelist in his own right both before and after the great conflict, had published a six-volume work on his personal perspective of the War. What finally turned me onto this book and series as a whole was finding an old copy the local highschool I was working at was giving away ...more
Miguel Alberola
May 03, 2014 Miguel Alberola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second World War. A thrilling subject. Even more inside the head of Winston Churcill, detailed data with a touch of Brit phlegm.

This is the first book of the six-novel series, and describes mainly how war was about to start, and the first Germans moves, conquers, etc.
Sep 10, 2014 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Second World War (6 books)
  • Their Finest Hour (The Second World War, #2)
  • The Grand Alliance (The Second World War, #3)
  • The Hinge of Fate (The Second World War, #4)
  • Closing the Ring (The Second World War, #5)
  • Triumph and Tragedy (The Second World War, #6)

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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]” 20 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.” 7 likes
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