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Churchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  499 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Were World Wars I and II—which can now be seen as a thirty-year paroxysm of slaughter and destruction—inevitable? Were they necessary wars? Were the bloodiest and most devastating conflicts ever suffered by mankind fated by forces beyond men’s control? Or were they products of calamitous failures of judgment? In this monumental and provocative history, Patrick Buchanan mak ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Crown (first published January 1st 2008)
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Dec 17, 2008 Don rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Well argued case that British actions between the two world wars resulted in their fall to a second rate power.

This is not a flattering portrail of Churchill. He is shown to have failed to see the perils of using the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis.

Buchanan's view is that Britian should have never allied with Poland. By doing so Poland stood up to Hitler instead of accepting overtures of alliance. Buchanan shows that Hitler had no designs on the west was an admirer of England. If Poland would
Adam Spivey
Probably one of the best books I've ever read. A book like this was long overdue. I came to the same conclusions about WW2 before the book but it was nice to see a man with Buchanan's stature articulate this viewpoint so well. Just to summarize some of his main arguments.

1. WW2 didn't occur because of isolationism but because of the injustices inflicted on Germany at the Treaty of Versailles.

2. Hitler never wanted war with the West and thought that a two front war was Germany's biggest mistake d
This book should be a real eye-opener for those who have accepted the conventional wisdom regarding WWII. It, like Human Smoke (Nicholas Baker) and a handful of other books, carefully demonstrates that WWII was not "The Good War" but instead an unnecessary blunder which led to 50 million dead and an Iron Curtain behind which Eastern Europe suffered for 50 years.

Buchanan delineates the series of diplomatic mistakes from Versailes to Danzig which led to the war. As in Human Smoke, Winston Churchi
I found this book to be extremely interesting, well-written, and full of anecdotes that brought the WW-2 era and its key historical figures to life for me. Buchanan is a fine nonfiction writer and enough of a contrarian to reject politically correct hagiography. I would love some of my friends and relatives of both liberal and conservative bent to read this book. I think they would come away with a lower opinion of Churchill and/or FDR, for one thing.

Buchanan's view of history focuses on power b
Don Fox
So while Adolph Hitler was gobbling up Europe, intent on world conquest, England thrust up its greatest son, Sir Winston Churchill, a statesman for the ages, to oppose the evil tyrant, crush him, and save the world.

It is a great story. Pathetic little Winnie grows up to become Man of the Century, the great guardian of civilization against the forces of darkness and depravity. It is the story as I learned it through numerous accounts, and that I accepted and even cherished. The story that gave ri
I bought this book on a whim largely because I'd been criticizing it ever since I first heard about it and thought if I actually read it, I could rip it apart all the better. But then something shocking occurred. I actually agreed with the vast majority of it! I still look at the world and Britain / later America's role in it differently than Buchanan but his arguments are very convincing. Basically he says that WWI should never have happened; the settlement of WWI should've been a lot better (t ...more
I enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it, not the least of which is how little we really know about events that may affect our lives greatly. I would highly recommend it as an alternate view of World War 2, which has come to be called "the good war" by many in our present day world. It is also a very unflattering view of Winston Churchill who not only led the English people in that war, but presided over the demise of the British Empire as well. The story of how that came about makes a very ...more
Gerald Heath
I tend to think of Pat Buchanan as an ideologue, so the scrupulous fairness of trying to show all sides in the momentous decisions leading to the two world wars quite impressed me. The current Ukraine situation, with a Russian population being ruled unwillingly by another ethnicity, reflects the problems that foolish men like Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George created in their attempts to re-draw the map of Europe at Versailles. Their ineptitude led to WWII, which we can hope won't happen over ...more
If you love history and politics,pick this book up.When you're done you'll probably say History does repeat itself
Very good. Shows Churchill as he really was, rather than the savior of Britain
José Antonio
Aunque es un libro muy interesante, sobre todo en la parte dedicada a la locura que desató la Primera Guerra Mundial, con una versión en la que Alemania y el Kaiser juegan un papel diferente al que suele ser habitual en los libros de historia; y también por una visión muy crítica de Winston Churchill y su responsabilidad en ambas guerras mundiales, que tampoco suele ser moneda corriente; creo que el señor Buchanan se empantana cuando trata de hacernos creer que Hitler solo quería recuperar lo qu ...more
David R.
This one can't help but be immensely controversial. What Buchanan is arguing is that Winston Churchill screwed up the world. The initial mistake was England's getting into WW1 -- which Buchanan asserts was the real unnecessary war. His conception is that Germany was only acting to secure the classical balance of power in Europe, that England would have stayed clear had Churchill not acted strenuously to beat down the Kaiser. This of course led to a humiliated Germany that found its redemption in ...more
Arun Ellis
Had difficulty with this book when I first read it - not because it's hard to read or because I necessarily found the views hard to comprehend - simply because I'm a Churchill fan - having read it a second time I tend to agree that British politicians could've played their hand a bit better but I'm still of the opinion that when Hitler had finished digesting Russia he would surely have come west with all that entailed. I would also contend that the old Empires were always destined to fall in a m ...more
I know a lot of people don't care for Pat Buchanan - but I'm not concerned about that. He backed up what he had to say with a lot of sources - and it's lead to a several great debates between me and a few of my friends - some liberal - some conservative. What if Britain didn't declare war on Germany in 1914.... there wouldn't have been 700-800,000 Brits slaughtered. Germany may have defeated France and gone on to defeat Russia. Lenin would have died unknown. No Treaty of Versailles. No Hitler. N ...more
Paul Lamonica
This book is not mediocre -- it is really good and awful at the same time.

On the good side, the premise is fascinating. The book's idea is that the result of the Second World War -- destuction of the British Empire, Soviet domination of much of Europe, and of course, the human suffering -- was so horrible, that had Britian NOT entered the war, things would have been better for all concerned. Buchanan states that while Britian entered the war to keep Poland and the rest of Europe free, all that B
Pondering the question of whether it was good for England to enter the war, as this book claims Hitler never wanted a war with England. For lebensraum, Germany would have been content to conquer lands to the east. Germany and Russia might have gone at it and western Europe would have been spared the destruction of WWII. Not discussed in this book is what would have stopped the atrocities of the Third Reich in the countries it conquered.

It is fascinating to read about this period in time and rea
Shyam Sundar
I had written a term paper earlier this year titled "The revisionist history of the origins of the Second World War in Europe". I used many sources, especially AJP Taylor, Charles Tansill, and Victor Suvorov. Having done such an exhaustive survey of the pre-WW2 era, I am well acquainted with the intricacies of diplomacy and deceit which took place before that war.
Patrick Buchanan is one of my favorite political analysts, and he uses some of the same sources I did, but argues more forcefully and
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So when was the necessary war? Well there were mistakes that is certain. And with hindsight things should have been done differently and the century ended up being pretty messed up. This book lays too much of the blame onto Britain and you must wonder at the author's prejudice. About half way through the book you start to feel sorry for poor old misunderstood Hitler. The author hates the thought but the Nazi's had to be stopped. Stalin could not have done this alone, almost certainly Russia woul
A very stimulating book. A revisionist approach to the history of the two great wars. I was greatly stimulated by many of Buchanan's conclusions in this book. It set me off on a quest to start reading other books so that I might verify if his conclusions were valid. Although at this point I have decided that Buchanan is not correct in many instances, I tend to agree with many of the broader points. For example, that there was not a good reason for the US to enter WWI. As to the war guarantee to ...more
For me, it didn't quite register until part way through reading this that it was Pat Buchanan, oh, that Pat Buchanan, that odious creature from CNN's Crossfire. It all makes a little more sense after getting that.

His basic premise is that Churchill was a warmongering fanatic (you can just feel Buchanan's hatred of Churchill in every word in this book) while everybody else was just trying to run their countries (and empires) in the best way they could and didn't want any trouble. If it hadn't be
I've been seeing references to this book pop up on LRC since it was first published in 2008. It looked interesting, but I have nearly zero interest in military history. After reading several excerpts I was intrigued. It's not military history. Buchanan's book is a history of the men and political movements who brought about both world wars--a thirty year period that Buchanan identifies as the West's civil war. He does a good job of presenting WWI as little more than a disaster brought about by s ...more
First Pat Buchanan book for me... he has an eloquent writing style. Am on page 40 something and things seem to be making sense so far except that he overrates the white race, e.g., the sub-Saharan Africans were primitives or some such language before arrival of the white man.
May 2012 - Finally finished it. Interesting last chapter. He actually used the phrase, "the graveyard of empires..." - he thinks America is stretching itself too wide and thin and we could be reaching a breaking point. But I
Cjay Engel
It can be a challenge at times to keep up with all the names of people and cities and dates so you have to really pay attention. Especially as he starts with the unfamiliar territories and power of the WW1 world. But it's a five star book that will completely challenge your paradigm about the nature of WW2. You'll never look at Churchill, Hitler and the Second World War the same. I say read it.
Lynn Warford
I never really paid too much attention to Author Pat Buchanan, nor did I vote for him when he ran for President. However, I HAVE, immersed myself in the history of both world wars. And, after reading Pat Buchanan's book: "Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War". I found that I was in TOTAL agreement with Mr. Buchanan's sentiments! Especially when it came to England's choice to declare war on Germany in 1914; which may very well have been the worst political decision in all of history.

If Engla
Nothing terribly profound here but even a little bit of wisdom goes a long way nowadays. Some main points: Munich wasn't the mistake, the guarantee to Poland was. The west should have sat out and let the Nazis and Ruskies go at it. Churchill, man of the century?, was an atrocious leader.
Buchanan makes a pretty strong case that both World Wars were unnecessary wars. The title, "The Unnecessary War" comes from a quote from Churchill himself—so it is not only Buchanan who believes this. Also, as noted by some other reviewers on Goodreads, Churchill definitely takes a beating in this book. If the quotes from Churchill and company are genuine—and I have no reason to believe they are not—Churchill does not belong on any list of heroes. Certainly not mine.

The lessons for current Ameri
A well written book on two despicable European civil wars that cost the westerners countless lives of good people,loss of territories,economic ruin,stalinization of half of Europe or eleven Christian countries, loss of China to Mao and the implosion of European empires.
In a single century , all the great houses of continental Europe fell due to political blunders on both sides- from the building of a high seas fleet by the kaiser, Edward Grey secret alliance to France, Schlieffen Plan, the sta
I found Patrick Buchanan's "Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World" to be agonizingly repetitive at times, and rambling at others (I listened to the audiobook version and appreciated the narration). Nevertheless, Buchanan offers some good food for thought and paints an enticingly different picture of what our world might be like if leaders such as Chamberlain, Churchill (and of course Hitler) had made other choices.

I am not well-read o
H ardis
good book for people who want to understand why we are where we are and how fortunes change for men and countrys
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One of America's best known paleoconservatives, Buchanan served as a senior advisor to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. He ran for president in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Buchanan is an isolationist on the subject of American foreign policy and believes in a restrictive immigration policy.
More about Patrick J. Buchanan...
The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny

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“These men are not made of the same stuff as the Francis Drakes and the other magnificent adventurers who created the empire. These, after all, are the tired sons of a long line of rich men, and they will lose their empire.”110” 0 likes
“Somewhere in the last century, Western man suffered a catastrophic loss of faith—in himself, in his civilization, and in the faith that gave it birth.” 0 likes
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