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Their Finest Hour (The Second World War, Vol. 2)
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Their Finest Hour (The Second World War #2)

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,511 ratings  ·  80 reviews
"After the end of the World War of 1914 there was a deep conviction and almost universal hope that peace would reign in the world. This heart's desire of all the peoples could easily have been gained by steadfastness in righteous convictions, and by reasonable common sense and prudence."
But we all know that's not what happened. As Britain's prime minister for most of th
Mass Market Paperback, 652 pages
Published 1974 by Bantam Books (first published January 1st 1920)
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The bit from the second volume that everyone quotes is "We will fight them on the beaches". Well, I love that too, but my very favourite phrase is a less well-known one: "Tanks for Africa!" I know, it doesn't sound particularly inspiring. But it is, when you know the background, and I've said it to myself many times when things have looked bad. Let me fill you in on the story.

Due to Britain's criminally inept preparation (see the first volume), World War II has gotten off to a catastrophic start
Reading this book I realized how American centered our teaching of history is. Not that it is unexpected or wrong really, we just leave stuff out because it doesn't directly relate to the US. For example, I knew WWII started in 1939, I just didn't know much about what happened before Pearl Harbor. In a lot of things I've read, and especially watched (I'm talking History Channel here) Germany invaded Poland, then nobody did anything else for almost two years until Pearl Harbor when suddenly every ...more
This volume describes key events and battles from May to December 1940 when Britain stood alone against the might of the Nazis (and subsequently the Italians). Winston Churchill describes the theme of the volume as "How the British people held the fort alone till those who hitherto had been half blind were half ready" which sums it up exactly. This narrative of Churchill's involvement shows just how much he contributed to the direction that the war took including suggestions for the design of su ...more
Glyn Longden
Rating: 8/10. In the last half century, the reputation of Winston Churchill has suffered significantly. He has been accused of failing to realize the political agenda of Stalin at the end of the war and almost colluding to deliver eastern Europe to the Soviet Union. While these criticisms may or may not be true, there can be no doubting the brilliance of Churchill as a historical writer. In this, the second of his six-volume history of the war, we see Churchill as he comes to power in 1940.

In r
Nov 01, 2008 Johnny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Richard Williams
Shelves: history
The page numbers in the following review correspond to the hardbound copy of the book rather than the paperback pictured.

The second volume in Churchill's memoirs concerning his period as prime minister, like the first in the series, is not as much to be read as pondered. It is almost more of a database of charts, dates, memos, speeches, and telegrams interspersed with narrative than it is a traditional memoir. As such, it is valuable for reference, reflection, research, and careful reading. I fi
I bought Churchill's 6-volume history of the Second World War many years ago, but did not find the strength to begin reading it until some time later. The effect was immediate. Although it took me over a year to read all of it, that was only because I have long had the habit of reading a number of books concurrently. I simply couldn't put Churchill down. To say that the story of World War II is a gripping one, is to put it mildly. How much more gripping do you think it might be in the hands of t ...more
Another fabulous entry in Churchill's series regarding World War II. This book roughly documents the year 1940 - the fall of France, the Battle of Britain and other activities during the year.

Churchill's grasp of the politics of the situation are breathtaking, the individual correspondence's between Churchill and FDR are amazing to read, as the finesse Churchill shows in documenting the case time and again to FDR that the U.S. must join Great Britain in their crusade against the Nazis, or face t
This second volume of Churchill's history of the Second World War is written in his wonderful style, and quite detailed. Unfortunately the maps in the ebook are, as often happens, too small to see well. Churchill does a good job of describing what they knew at the time and what they found out later from captured Nazi records. Much of the book seems to consist of long quotations of his own memoranda to others at the time, showing that he suggested successful strategies, argued against unsuccessfu ...more
Streator Johnson
Volume two of Churchill's history of WWII. What an extraordinary work. We are lucky to have such a mammoth document from one so close to all that happened during this period. Now I haven't read many of these types of works (U. S. Grant's autobiography is on my list), but I am fascinated by these books (only four more to go). And I know one has to take what is said with a little salt, but like I said, it is still fascinating. This one covers from about May of 1940 to January 1941. And that is 630 ...more
I have read almost every one of Churchill's books. Reading any of them is like going to a technicolor movie.
Doreen Petersen
Really enjoyed this one! Now on to biography of George Washington!
Volume #2 of Winston Churchill's masterful history of WWII. A worthwhile read by Americans lest we forget the contribution given to success in WWII by Great Britain in precious life, riches and resources as well as tenacity, will power, and strategic leadership in the face of a Europe dominated by Germany. The indomitable Churchill embodied as only he could the courage and conviction that to fight on alone against fascist tyranny was the only viable and moral course for survival of the West and ...more
Michael Scott
+++ A credible account of World War Two, through the eyes of a high official of the Allies
+++ Exceptional quality of lessons of situation management and organizational control, under the most extreme pressure
+++ detailed coverage of the relationship with the US, which is finally becoming clear and which will play an essential role for the outcome of the war
++ Personal accounts and overview of the Battle of Britain, which, despite the relatively few human and material losses (Churchill shows lat
Winston Churchill's second book in his World War II series covers the time period from May to December 1940. The early weeks of Spring, 1940 were very busy for Churchill, since he had to name all of the heads of the government agencies he presided over as the incoming Prime Minister of Great Britain. Besides structuring a coalition government to run the country, he had to become intimately involved in all of the complicated decision-making attendant on preparing his country for war. He would som ...more
I find it increasingly difficult to put myself in the mindset of Great Britain's leaders in 1940 as I push further into Sir Winston's memoirs. I can hardly comprehend what it must have felt like as France fell and the vile Vichy regime took over; as Mussolini launched his ill-starred campaigns in North Africa and Greece; as Stalin signed a separate peace with Hitler and despoiled Eastern Europe; as The United States equivocated and FDR had to win re-election. All of this as the Blitz rained down ...more
Churchill documents the period of the Battle of Britain, the air bombardment, the deployment of troops from various parts of the British empire to North Africa to fight the Italians, the America sale of destroyers to Britain, and the Vichy government's navy. I enjoy the primary source materials in the form of letters that Churchill uses to the Generals and other foreign leaders. Churchill is a masterful narrator that keeps you reading night after night.

What amazed me is how important tank combin
This is the volume of the Second World War collection, in which Mr. Churchill really grabs the reader's attention. While the first volume had to present the background and all of the events leading up to WWII, this book focuses on the hard-pressed Brits and their resilience in the face of seeming victory for the enemy.

The Prime Minister's sardonic comments are sprinkled throughout, so you can laugh even when you want to cry. He is blisteringly honest in his evaluation of the constant losing and
This book, the second in Churchill's WW2 series, details the fall of France to the Germans and the subsequent ordeal which England went through in the next year. The book is called "Their Finest Hour" because its main purpose is to describe a period of time in which basically the entire world, but especially all of Europe, thought that the Nazis were invincible, and that to resist them was not only futile, but foolish.

For example, the French generals all said that England would be whimpering lik
Aaron Crofut
"But nothing surpasses 1940" writes Churchill in summing up the times of danger faced by the English nation. I am quite convinced he was right. Churchill has a way of keeping the reader in the suspense of the moment rather than looking ahead to the final victory. It's often too easy to forget that those going through historic events didn't know what the outcome would be. France has collapsed in epic fashion (where is the strategic reserve on which defensive warfare depends? Oops.), what remains ...more
Djpj Oneeightseven
After such an arresting first volume, Volume 2 of Churchill’s epic record of WW2 did not disappoint. The intense daily grind of facing up to an enemy that seems all-powerful and marches forward destroying all allies like a bear swiping at flies, is illustrated with clarity and force. Churchill stands like the Celtic God of Strategy and Daring. The violence of the Germans jumps out of the page, unbelievable. How could the German people have orchestrated the brutal mass murder of women children an ...more
Meirav Rath
Feb 28, 2008 Meirav Rath rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ww2 buffs, history buffs, anglophiles
Shelves: world-war-2
The hard struggle of England's first few years in the Second World War are nicely depicted by Churchill's usual flowing language and dry humor.
His view of the Battle Over Britain might not be that of the citizen who was there to huddle in the Anderson shelter, but it's a vivid and fascinating description nonetheless.
This book was not as navy-obsessed as the first one, but in this book since Churchill had many reins in his hands, he insisted on bringing every memo, every letter and every note to
Donald Legault

It is regrettable that the excellent prose of Mr. Churchill is marred in RosettaBook's Ebook version by incompetent scanning of the original paper based book. It is evident that the scanned result of the original book was neither proofread nor subjected to a spellchecker. The Ebook, as sold by Kobo, is laced with so many errors that it makes the reading disagreeable to say the least. Not only are many of the words simply non existent in the English language but some errors give mildly humorous r
Donald Legault
It is regrettable that the excellent prose of Mr. Churchill is marred in RosettaBook's Ebook version by incompetent scanning of the original paper based book. It is evident that the scanned result of the original book was neither proofread nor subjected to a spellchecker. The Ebook, as sold by Kobo, is laced with so many errors that it makes the reading disagreeable to say the least. Not only are many of the words simply non existent in the English language but some errors give mildly humorous r ...more
Tim Mygatt
Incredibly insightful. This account stands alone in a genre not commonly attempted: the voluntary revelation of one's choices and actions during a moment of tremendous testing, a moment when those choices and actions could easily be second-guessed. Of course, the outcome of the war made this an easier task than it would be for some; history is written by the victors and all that. But what gives these books there power is the tremendous amount of primary material in them -- letters and papers wri ...more
'Their Finest Hour' indeed. A very close and detailed look at the events leading to the Battle Of Britain, the struggle itself and the very real impact of the 'Blitz' on civilians especially in London.
As in Volume 1 history unfolds on a detailed level with insights into the events and decisions of the day based on Churchill's minutes and orders (all done on paper at the time instead of just verbally).
Even though one knows the outcome, it is a gripping read. Seeing how many crucial junctions ther
Constituted of a “great many" original letters and minutes which were written by Churchill during the course of the war, this book would be tedious to read if not for Churchill mastery of the pen.

As it it, it’s still a little monotonous at time, not all the minutes were worth including and many would have been profitably replaced by more narrative and analysis.
Churchill also has the tendency to go back and forth in time when switching from one theater to the next, which at time may be disturbi
Matt Brown
Definitely an easier read than the first volume, although possibly that's as much to do with becoming more familiar with Churchill's writing style. I'm growing quite fond of the mix of historical detail lightened by the personal anecdotes that are interspersed here and there.

This volume covers the beginning of the war, the fall of France and the initial attacks on Britain. The imbalance in size/strength of the armies in favour of Germany is brutally clear.

Churchill's statesmanship is evident thr
Churchill and England going it alone against the nazzies, while he cajoles Roosevelt, coddles De Gaulle, and sweeps the Empire for troops.

Read this in conjunction with the Churcill: Taken from the Diaries of Lord Moran" (Churchill's doctor) who relates that all of this was accomplished despite (or because of) huge lashings of booze and pills - uppers, downers, and various medicaments to collar and tame "the black dog".

I read it also in conjunction with "Civitas Dei: The Commonwealth of God" by L
I thought volume 1 did a great job of capturing both the events leading up to World War II, and - more importantly - why they happened. This book is a bit more event driven than volume 1 but is no less powerful. Without direct involvement in the fall of France, the first part of the book dragged; but once the book turned to the Battle of Britain, Churchill did a great job of conveying the mood of the British government and its people as they stood alone to fight the largest powers ever assembled ...more
James Violand
Jun 28, 2014 James Violand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: own
Winston Churchill I consider the greatest man of the 20th century. This is his personal account - warts and all - of the events when Great Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Brilliant.
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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)
  • The Gathering Storm (The Second World War, #1)
  • 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)
The Gathering Storm (The Second World War, #1) 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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“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
“Doubts [can] be swept away only by deeds.” 61 likes
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