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Their Finest Hour

(The Second World War #2)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,847 ratings  ·  141 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, 903 pages
Published May 5th 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published 1949)
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Samuel Giordano This movie is moving.In present times statesmen are so dwarfed by their meager deeds, that is not possible to compare them with once upon a time world…moreThis movie is moving.In present times statesmen are so dwarfed by their meager deeds, that is not possible to compare them with once upon a time world leaders. It does not matter if you loved or hated them independently of their posture or ideology. Winston was a superb leader for rough times. he gave the right answer when needed.The actor is very good and general production is good. The speeches of the prime minister are special.(less)
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Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 s
Lewis Weinstein
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is an absolute delight to share the history as Churchill experienced it. The writing is clear and compelling, revealing the man as much as the times. So far, I have read through the 1940 events. Much more to follow.
Mikey B.
Paris - Les jardins des Champs-Elysées - La statue de Churchill

"We Shall Never Surrender" by Jean Cardot - at Le Petit Palais in Paris

This book covers the period from May 1940 to the end of that dire year – when Britain truly stood alone – for freedom and against Nazism.

Europe was under Nazi-Fascist rule – and all were antagonistic and many expected Britain to make a deal with the Nazis.

Churchill took the helm – after the British Parliament had had enough of Neville Chamberlain – at the very moment when Nazi tanks were entering Holland and Belgium en route to France. Seldom has a
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, autumn, war
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
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
We shall never surrender✌
Nov 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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 r
Glyn Longden
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This series of volumes detailing WW II is strictly for those who love Churchill and love great detail.
This 2nd volume in the series covers the period from the start of the war through Churchill's appointment as prime minister in May 1940 to the end of 1940.
Much of the book is reprints of Churchill's directives to his ministers on giving directions and asking for answers on progress. As I say, this is very detailed material. The book is about half history and half autobiography.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-ww2
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
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Joseph Raborg
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first volume was better than the second. Churchill bogs down the reader with tons of official communications in this volume. But, he does a fantastic job of showing the heroism of the British people in their most difficult moment. The student of politics will likely appreciate all the nuances of diplomacy and politics described by Churchill. At any rate, Churchill writes with beautiful and clear prose and I look forward to the third volume, which will describe the Battle of the Atlantic and ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
Churchill's first hand account of WW2. This volume covers the early war when England stood alone. France had fallen. The USA was not yet in. Nazi Germany had an agreement with the Soviet Union. Italy stood with Germany. Great read.
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.
Doreen Petersen
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Really enjoyed this one! Now on to biography of George Washington!
Andrew Canfield
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The second book in Winston Churchill’s Second World War literary saga begins with the evacuation at Dunkirk, France. The German war machine is tearing through France at the book’s outset, forcing a complex series of reactions among some French leaders (like Marshal Petain and Pierre Laval) who want to cooperate, and others (like Charles De Gaulle) who seek to set up a resistance government in their North African colonies.

Churchill delves into details about the Dunkirk evacuation, making it clea
S.P. Muir
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
I was a little disappointed with this one - not with Winston's writing, you understand, but with the book itself. The paper was cheap, to say the least, and the print was often smudged and/or had parts of letters missing. I've seen old and clapped out typewriters do a better job! On content, it merited the same five stars I gave to volume 1 (an ancient and battered hardcover) but the print-job spoiled the experience somewhat. So four stars then.

The content is perhaps a little dry for
Tommy Kiedis
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Where to begin to describe the rich experience of reading Their Finest Hour, volume two of Churchill's account of WWII! My copy is marked throughout. Here are five reasons to read it:

1. To appreciate Churchill, the man, the statesman, and the leader. WSC's grasp of world affairs, war, and interactions is simply stunning.
2. To glean Lessons from Dunkirk. I wrote my book, "Churchill And Dunkirk: Finding Insight Inside Defeat" after gleaning so much leadership insight from his acc
John Devlin
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Delivers a stark appraisal of both British strengths and weaknesses in 1940 when Britain alone stood against Hitler, Italy and enigmatic foes Russia and Japan.

Churchill's at his strongest when detailing his thoughts on how England's position was not as desperate as many thought - the ability to cross the Channel is highlighted - as is how long it took the Allies to overcome the same impediment until June of '44.

Churchill is well aware of his place in history and some of t
Mark Stidham
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
For anyone wanting an understanding of the onset of WWII, this book is a good, perhaps indispensable volume.

I have no doubts that opinion weaves into facts. But as a coherent recount of a principal player, it is comprehensive and unflinching. Churchill's ability to report on himself is extraordinary, his self confidence notwithstanding. As must have been evident at the time, the outcome of the war is far from certain. And so, even with the knowledge of the ultimate victory, there is communicate
Marc Donner
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the first book, this volume is mostly a collection of Churchill's speeches and memos from the war archive, annotated with a bit of commentary.

The core subtext of the book is, "Look how wonderful I was."

There are quite a few useful takeaways from reading this book:

1 - write stuff down ... there is no way you can remember what you have done ... and conversations are subject to faulty memory, garbling, misinterpretation, and simple misrepresentation.
James Richardson
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just finished Volume II of Winston Churchill's six volume set on the Second World War. This one is entitled Their Finest Hour and deals with The Battle of Britain from many perspectives. Great Primary Source material for AP teachers to design document based questions from. Yes it had to suck being in London then which was a huge mistake by Hitler who should have concentrated the German air attack on British Industry and ports rather than civilians in London. It is an inspiring tale of how Brit ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just fascinating.Love Winston's insider views, his soaring inspiration and his witty asides.He was a miraculous man..not without flaws but singular in his energy , scope of vision and commitment. He truly was born for that moment in history and the free world can thank him for it. The portion of the book "Alone" is quite moving as he chronicles the roughly 2 years that Britain was largely responsible for all the military resistance to Hitler. Imagine being bombed day and night and still striving ...more
This second volume, which covers the war from the time Churchill became PM until the end of 1940, basically covers the time when Britain, with aid of its Commonwealth and Dominions fought on alone. It is a very gripping story, but Churchill makes the conclusion seem fore-ordained by insisting throughout that he never doubted they would prevail, and by examining different arenas of the war separately, so that it is much harder to get an overall picture of the tremendous pressure Britain was under ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots of things interrupted the reading for me here as this volume took over a year to finally complete. Interesting look at 1940 and as an American I love the viewpoint of the war from another angle with another country's lens over things that might get me to think about things in a new way. We also tend to feel, here in the US, that the war started in late 1941 because of the self-focused view, so there is not at much I have read about those years before we were sucked in. Looking forward to co ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
While not quite as fascinating as the first book, with that ones slow and inexorable build up to WW2, this was still a good read. Goes into quite a bit of detail as to what was occurring during 1940, but is mainly from British point of view, and misses out some detail I think would be helpful (such as the actual details of the French / German armistice or what Hitlers peace ‘offer’ was to Britain). Kindle version I had was also not best, as no maps included despite being referenced (my fault for ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Churchill is such a good writer. His words are indeed mightier than swords. I m also impressed by how much detailed war preparation he was involved. His trust of US, his optimism and hope, made all the difference in such a trying time. The part in French surrender almost read like a drama with so much suspense. I enjoyed this book.
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The Finest Hours, Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman 1 3 Nov 09, 2016 10:59PM  

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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)
  • 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)
“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.” 69 likes
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