I can't believe I'm awarding only two stars to a book written by Ian Kershaw, who is a great historian of Nazi Germany, an excellent researcher and wr...moreI can't believe I'm awarding only two stars to a book written by Ian Kershaw, who is a great historian of Nazi Germany, an excellent researcher and writer. But this book too often illustrates the cliché of "beating a dead horse." There's really no reason for a 350 page book about a minor British political figure of the early 1930s who by general agreement had only a very minimal impact upon his colleagues.
About half of the book is made up of Kershaw's interpretation of the general causes and consequences of British appeasement in the 1930s, but by no means was Lord Londonderry in the "mainstream" of appeasement, and it hardly seems appropriate to treat such an important subject as a secondary focus. That is to say, if Kershaw really wanted to deal with appeasement as the MAIN subject of the book, he should have concerned himself with MacDonald, Baldwin, Chamberlain, and Halifax as his primary subjects, not as figures on the fringes of his concern with Lord Londonderry.
Moreover, Kershaw proposes that Lord Londonderry be considered as representative of a broader trend, "The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy." Really, though, David Cannadine deals with that subject in a much more convincing (and nuanced) fashion. And Kershaw doesn't explain why Londonderry should be regarded as any more representative of the aristocracy than other figures such as Lord Salisbury - or Winston Churchill, who after all would never allow people to forget that he was the grandson of a Duke.