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Their Finest Hour: The Second World War, Volume 2 (The Second World War #2)

4.37  ·  Rating Details ·  2,145 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
The second volume of Winston Churchill's six-volume definitive historical and autobiographical account of World War II, Their Finest Hour picks up where The Gathering Storm left off--with the fall of France to Hitler's forces and Britain's stand as the lone defender against the Nazi war machine.

Britain was virtually alone in its definitive stand against Hitler for eight mo
ebook, 903 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by RosettaBooks (first published 1949)
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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
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
Oct 11, 2011 GoldGato 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 losing and
Aug 05, 2008 Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2008 Johnny 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 reading. I fi
Glyn Longden
Jul 25, 2011 Glyn Longden 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 Richard 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
Jul 14, 2012 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 06, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alex Nagler
Feb 03, 2015 Alex Nagler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
That's two!
Doreen Petersen
Oct 16, 2013 Doreen Petersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Really enjoyed this one! Now on to biography of George Washington!
Michael Shea
Dec 07, 2016 Michael Shea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too good to be true.
Aug 17, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read almost every one of Churchill's books. Reading any of them is like going to a technicolor movie.
John Devlin
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 the book can be seen as a
Peter Coomber
Jun 25, 2017 Peter Coomber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This volume takes in the fall of France, the Battle of Britain, the start of the Battle of the Atlantic, details of the aid provided by the USA to the Britain (Lend Lease) and Britain's initial success against Mussolini's army in Egypt, as well as Hitler's secret plans to invade Russia.
Very well written. Well worth a read.
David Worsfold
Mar 11, 2017 David Worsfold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This, of course, has huge value as a principal source for anyone researching WW2. Frustratingly, like most historians of the period, Churchill himself completly glosses over the post-Dunkirk evacuations from France, apart from the famous reference to the sinking of the Lancastria at St Nazaire ("people have had enough bad news for one day") and the loss of the Highland Division at St Valery. As this is my prime focus at the moment I had hoped to find a little more comment.
Apr 17, 2016 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Military history buffs, World War Two buffs, historians
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
This is the second volume in Churchill’s history of the Second World War. Like the other four volumes, it contains huge amounts of data and documentation of the activities of the British government and their allies throughout the period covered. It can make fairly dry reading, for someone not used to government documents and procedural records, but it also is fascinating to those who are interested in the story it documents. The period covered is from May, 1940 (when Churchill first formed his c ...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
Jul 09, 2008 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gijs Grob
The title of Churchill's second book about the British Empire in the Second World War is taken from his own famous speech from June 18, 1940. Churchill referred to his own country at a moment France had fallen and the war on England had to begin. These two events are the subject of this book. Churchill describes the onslaught on the West, the shockingly rapid fall of France and its paralyzed defeatist leaders with disgust, shock and regret. The second part is aptly called 'Alone', for now the UK ...more
Michael Scott
Sep 22, 2013 Michael Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
+++ 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
May 21, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, classic
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
Oct 16, 2016 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I think Winston Churchill is the greatest man of the 20th Century, with due apologies to Gandhi. I've read a number of biographies on Churchill, some enjoyable (Manchester), some not so much (Gilbert). In addition to standard biographies, there exists with Churchill, probably more than any other person of action, an immense opportunity to read literature by a truly great man. In his epic series, the Second World War, one can get under the hood and actually imagine what it would be like to be Chu ...more
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
Jul 28, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Meirav Rath
Feb 02, 2008 Meirav Rath rated it really liked it  ·  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
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The Finest Hours, Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman 1 2 Nov 09, 2016 10:59PM  
  • Churchill and America
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940
  • The Rommel Papers
  • Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest i n Europe
  • Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan
  • Crusade in Europe
  • Bomber Command
  • Decision in Normandy
  • Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942
  • Target Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton
  • Bodyguard of Lies: The Extraordinary True Story Behind D-Day
  • Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
  • Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris; June 6 - Aug. 5, 1944
  • The Third Reich at War
  • Brazen Chariots
  • Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain
  • Scorched Earth: The Russian-German War, 1943-1944
  • Battle: The Story of the Bulge
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)

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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.” 66 likes
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