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The Hinge of Fate

(The Second World War #4)

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  1,598 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Winston Churchill's six-volume history of the cataclysm that swept the world remains the definitive history of the Second World War. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable both for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction and is an enduring, compelling work that led to his being awarded the Nobel P ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published May 5th 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published January 1950)
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Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
When you've done something almost supernaturally brilliant and far-sighted, and it works better than you could have dared hope, you really want to get the credit. Even Churchill is not immune. Back in 1940, when Britain was under siege and things looked almost desperate, he made a terrific strategic decision: not to go all-out on defence, but move tanks so as to be able to hold Egypt. That might give long-term chances of a counter-attack. Miraculously, it worked. We won the Battle of Britain; th ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history, spring
I ought to have known. My advisers ought to have known and I ought to have been told, and I ought to have asked.

Winston Churchill's WWII series has turned out to be intriguing reading, albeit very long reading. This volume is the first one in the series where relief, not much but relief nevertheless, starts to show. After the first three volumes focused on one disaster after another, Churchill leads the reader to what he feels is the turning point of the war.

The British people can face peril or misf
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The time frame of this book covers approximately one and a half years, from late 1941 until May 1943, during which a cascading series of events, some of them catastrophic, tried the resolve of the British peoples and their Prime Minister. There were several bright spots early-on, including the recent thumping that the British Commonwealth armies had given to German General Rommel in the North African desert, and the long-hoped-for entry of the United States into the war.

This latter development
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mikey B.
This fourth volume takes us from January 1942 to May 1943. During this period, as the title indicates, the fulcrum of the war shifted from one of constant defeats to one of victory. The tide had changed, but as Churchill continued to warn, the road to triumph was still to be long, costly and arduous.

Page 493 (my book) June, 1942

We had survived the collapse of France and the attack on Britain. We had not been invaded. We still held Egypt. We were alive and at bay; but that was/>We
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
So, everyone out there, pop quiz. Who knew before now that just after the United States entered WWII our shipping was attacked constantly by the German Navy, even just off shore of New Orleans and in the Chesapeake Bay and all around Florida? We didn't have very effective anti-submarine defense at the time and they picked off ships at will. Even to the point of picking and choosing which ships to sink. Two-thirds of the ships that went down were tankers, since they were the most important. 70 sh ...more
Andrew Canfield
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Hinge of Fate is the fourth installment of Winston Churchill's World War Two volumes.

His theme for this book is described as "How the power of the Grand Alliance became preponderant." Accordingly, he spends the book's 800 plus pages detailing how the tide turned (particularly against Germany and the Axis powers) during 1943.

The first two hundred pages deal largely with the fight against Japan. Fear over losing Singapore and Australia to the Japanese invaders looms large in Churc
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Winston Churchill was remarkable, as much as for any other reason, for the sheer volume of words he produced. In a long life, during which he was often preoccupied by both family matters (he had four children) and matters of state, he nevertheless found the time to compose an inordinate number of books. I say compose, because he perfected a system during the first war, which revealed its efficacy more than ever in the second, of working through secretaries. There are many odd anecdotes told abou ...more
David Rubin
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the fourth volume in Winston Churchill's monumental work on the Second World War. This is not history of a grand scope, but rather, Churchill's personal memoir of the war. Of course, being a key player on the allied side, Churchill brings a wealth of information and insight to the decision making process.

We Americans are so inculcated with the American roles and perspectives of the war, that Churchill's quintessential British version of events is a refreshing view. The book is composed
Jeff Elliott
Being 1,000 pages it took me a while to get through. There were a few good chapters on leadership (4 and 5). Having been a fan of Churchill this became a must read. During the time I have been reading this book I have learned some other things about him from another perspective. It's hard to read someone's work objectively until you have outside sources. Churchill's tendency to meddle in areas outside of his domain was what cost him his job before the war but also led to his success during it. A ...more
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I have read almost every one of Churchill's books. Reading any of them is like going to a technicolor movie.
Michael Scott
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was ok


--- Considering ElAlamein as "the hinge of fate" is, to put it mildly, British-centered. It was a battle of great tactical importance, which opened up the campaign in Italy, but "the" hinge? How about Stalingrad (Russia)? How about Midway and Guadalcanal (US)? Admittedly, Churchill does say "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat." (Emphasis mine.)

--- The terse treatment of Stalingrad and, in general, of the Russian plight. Alth
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it

This aptly titled volume describes how the war slowly starts to turn in the Allies' favor. It's interesting to read about the campaign in the Mediterranean and how little weight my own history education put on it.

Another interesting episode mentioned in this volume is the Katyn Massacre, where 22,000 Poles were found in mass graves in occupied Poland. The Nazis blamed the Soviets and the Soviets blamed the Nazis at the time. Churchill seems to hint that he thinks it more likely that the Soviets
Churchill characterizes this volume as the record of how a succession of defeats and setbacks was followed by a series of wins and gains in the year 1942. A surprising aspect for me was the realization of just how little Britain and the United States were engaged in actual combat during that period compared with what was happening between Russia and the Nazis. Churchill does not skimp on his evaluation of the enormity and consequence of that encounter. But he casts it within the "frame" of his f ...more
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another interesting book in the series this one, similar to number 3 is a bit drier than volumes 1 and 2, but still quite a good read. Definitely a tale of two halves, with the first half being a series of successive defeats for the allies, which then reverses in the second half. While Churchill appears to pin this somewhat on Africa / El Alamein, I think the other two big events also covered in this book, the battle of Midway and Stalingrad, were equally responsible in helping to turn the war t ...more
Justinas  Rasalskis
Just finished this shorter version with 4 volumes instead of original 6. Not sure about the original, but this shorter version is already very detailed and well written.

Gives you another perspective on how WW2 went through the eyes of Churchill. Set aside all plans and battles, most interesting thing here is how Churchill was able to explain virtually every single decision he made during those tough years. He rarely blamed the outcome, instead he was always criticizing thought proces
Alf Goodall
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover is not the same as my edition which may have been purchased as a set as all 6 volumes are the same without a dust jacket. As in other volumes in the series the description of ongoing behind the scenes activities is quite different from the usual books on the conduct of a war. Although he was a soldier, and at one time First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill's history of this great event are from the view of one of the greatest statesmen of all time. Anyone wondering about that should re ...more
James Richardson
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I recently finished reading Winston Churchill's Volume 4 of the Second World War entitled The Hinge of Fate. Great book loaded with insight from all the main characters of this historical event. I didn't realize everything that Great Britain did to insure the Allied victory but now I do.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although I can read only a few pages at a time, Churchill's take on the high level strategy and command decisions taken during WWII are fascinating. He was there and certainly has the ring of authority. Essential reading for students of the war.
HJ Yang
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best written book I've ever read

This series by Churchill is worthy to be selected as the best series books I've ever read so far. He was the master of communication.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great series by Mr. Churchill
Mike Reinking
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book 4 of his 6 part WWII history. This one focuses on the war in northern Africa and the workings of the allies - UK, Russia, and USA
Joshua Nuckols
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Karen Sofarin
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book and learned so much firsthand about strong leadership. Relationships and empathy also figure in this history of 1942 and much of 1943.
Gijs Grob
Of all six books that comprise Churchill's 'The Second World War'. 'The Hinge of Fate' is by far the thickest. No wonder, as it describes the longest war period of them all, from January 1942 to May 1943. As Churchill acknowledges himself, the first part describes a particular bad period for the British, as they quickly lost all their far eastern colonies to Japan, and were driven back into Egypt by Rommel's Afrika Corps. Only in the autumn of 1942 the allies were on a winning streak again, and ...more
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The fourth of six volumes in this series focuses on the US entry into the war. Most active theatres are North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Pacific.
Churchill heaps praise on his allies. First and foremost on the US, the 'awakening giant', whose industrial potential will eventually help win the war. At the same time he does not forget to emphasize the 'heroic struggle' and 'historical achievements' of Stalin's Russia - and rightly so.
The naked facts and sheer numbers of people and
Nov 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
The pace picks up again in this history of WWII. Their were some very interesting details about the sinking of a tremendous amount of shipping just off the coast of the US by U-boats. Being an American I enjoyed reading about the first major US involvement in the ground war in the operation Torch in North Africa. It is amazing how the tide turned in the both North Africa, Russia, and the Pacific, from tremendous setbacks by German and Japanese advancement. I was impressed at how much shuttle dip ...more
Kevin O'Brien
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle, audio
This is the fourth volume in Churchill's 6-volume history of World War II. As the book starts things look bad for the allies. The German army threatens to take Stalingrad, Rommel is running wild in North Africa, and Singapore falls to the Japanese. Then things turn around. The Soviets finally repulse the Germans at Stalingrad and start the long process of pushing the Germans back to Berlin. And in the Pacific, the victories at Midway and Guadalcanal began the turnaround against the Japanese.

Tim Mygatt
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
John Doyle
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Volume 4 of 6 describes the Allied victory in North Africa as the "Hinge of Fate" on which the ultimate fortunes of the combatants in Western Europe were determined. At last the British defeated the Germans at Alamein and thereafter rolled up a nearly continuous string of victories that culminated in victory. The power of these volumes for me comes from the correspondence and anecdotes among the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin). One such anecdote tells of President Roosevelt in a sta ...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

Other books in the series

The Second World War (6 books)
  • The Gathering Storm (The Second World War, #1)
  • Their Finest Hour (The Second World War, #2)
  • The Grand Alliance (The Second World War, #3)
  • Closing the Ring (The Second World War, #5)
  • Triumph and Tragedy (The Second World War, #6)
“To try to be safe everywhere is to be strong nowhere.” 2 likes
“There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away. The” 1 likes
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