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THE SECOND WORLD WAR > 4. SECOND WW - February 9 - February 15 ~~ Book One – Chapters VIII – X (117 – 168) -Non Spoiler

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 08, 2009 08:43PM) (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod
Note: This is the thread for the week of February 9th through February 15th:

February 9 - February 15 ~~ Book One – Chapters VIII – X (117 – 168)

This is a non spoiler thread.

Hello Everyone,

This will be the fourth weekly spotlighted thread for The Second World War - Volume One - The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as well which will not be non spoiler.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, on your Kindle or free on Google.

There is still time remaining to obtain the book and get started.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Welcome to the discussion.


The Second World War, Volume 1 The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod
Oldesq, folks can post in whatever thread they happen to be on; so there is not need to detour from the syllabus which is quite elongated as it is now. All threads remain open through the next book.

message 3: by The Antiquary (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments One clear option that Churchill does state would have been effective and should have been carried out was reoccupying the bridgeheads on the Rhine.

What's a Monday morning quarterback? Same as a back-seat driver?

message 4: by Sid (new)

Sid (sidthomson) | 26 comments Yes, there is "Monday morning quarterbacking" by Churchill here. I don't think the war would have been avoidable. However, had England/League of Nations pushed harder on Germany for treaty violations, and England been focusing on rearmament as Churchill was apparently recommending in terms of parity, the war may not have lasted as long as and Germany may not have made as many early gains. Very hard to tell.

message 5: by The Antiquary (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments The many violations of Versaille would have justified the reoccupation, as did subsequent events, and Hitler would've just had to lump it. By this stage in the 30s legitimate restoration of German pride ought to have been pushed to the back as a long-term goal.

I can't imagine Churchill screaming. Oldesq, it does seem that Churchill's gentle criticism of the US at the start is tarnishing your enjoyment of the book. The contemporary records of the proceedings of the House of Commons that Churchill quotes shows that he's more a frustrated substitute quarterback kept on the bench than one after the event.

message 6: by Sid (new)

Sid (sidthomson) | 26 comments I think there was likely a point of no return. Churchill's critisicm of the early reparations arrangements, his critisicm of the allied focus on reducing arms are correct I think. Had the post war period started differently, perhaps the war could have been avoided. But by the time Germany was violating the Versailles treaty it was too late. Any amount of sanctions or pressure from League of Nations would not have changed much.

message 7: by Dick (new)

Dick Wells | 10 comments Oldesq wrote: "Maybe the use of the word scream was a bit of hyperbole but I do think WSC was extremely upset at reparations and not just in an off-hand way or at the US. Some examples:

The economic clauses ..."

I think Churchill here is echoing J. M. Keynes'

The Economic Consequences of the Peace published in 1919.(Yes, that John Maynard Keynes). Keynes was a representative of the Treasury at the Versailles Peace Conference and was extremely vocal in his disagreement with the French point of view which demanded the harsh reparations that came out of Versailles. His denunciation of the peace treaty was unwelcome at the time but in retrospect was right on. I believe it is this viewpoint that Churchill is supporting here and that it is not just Monday morning quarterbacking. I also think that the rebuilding of Germany and Japan after WWII was designed to prevent the same tragedy that followed the harsh reparations of WWI.

message 8: by Dick (new)

Dick Wells | 10 comments One last comment about Churchill and Monday Morning Quarterbacking. If I remember my Churchill biography correctly, I think he spent many years in political exile and used that time in denouncing what he saw as a growing menace in Germany. He was quite vocal for a long, sustained period of time in advocating early rearmament and strong opposition to Germany. Thus when he writes in retrospect in 1947, he's really not saying anything he hadn't said before.

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod
Response to message 15: You are correct; but now he has war documents, diaries, the war itself to repudiate his old arguments and to refresh everyone's memories. In this memoir alongwith narrating the chronology of events themselves, he seems to be rather professorial as he lets us all in on what really happened and in some ways how he wants those events and people remembered. He always stated that he would write the history.

message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments Has anyone else noticed while reading this that Churchill was always right (at least from his own point of view). I have yet to read about a mistake he made or something upon looking back he would do differently.

I was a little surprised about his views on page 148. Here he talks about Musssolini's plans against Abyssinia and how they "were unsuited to the ethics of the twentieth centure. They beloned to those dard ages when while men felt themselves entitled to conquer yellow, brown, black, or red men, and subjugate them to their superior strength and weapons." This seems to be in direct conflict with his views on the English occupation of India.

It also seems like he is a little wishy washy on page 151. He does not support English assistance of Abyssinia and discourages the French from aiding. Later on page 158, he is critical of the English lack of follow through because "there is no doubt on our present knowledge that a bold decision would have cut the Italian communications with Ethiopia and that we should ahve been successful in any naval battle which might have followed.

One thing I don't understand is how Churchill could have been elected to the Admirality but then Baldwin would not include him in the government? Does anyone have a better understanding of the English governmental process that could explain that to me?

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod

How true; isn't that what the British had already done for centuries. I think though that the US sometimes suffers from the same philosophy that we can do things that other countries are not allowed to do because we know better.

In My Early Life I believe he was much more contrite and harder on himself. Regarding your question about the English governmental process, possibly some of our members who are from the UK may be better able to comment.


message 12: by The Antiquary (last edited Mar 21, 2009 08:22PM) (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments Postitions to the Admiralty are held in gift rather than open to election. The only elections are those to become an MP, member of parliament. MPs can be selected for ministerial posts by the executive (cabinet) with the Prime Minister having final say over the matter. Some ministerial posts are cabinet posts but not all and Churchill's position with the Admiralty in the mid 30s that I believe you are referring to Sarah I think still left him with the status of being a backbencher. MPs without a specific job in government are referred to as backbenchers, apart from debating and voting these members can still find roles in various committees. Churchill was Lord High Admiral during World War I (at least until Gallipoli) which was a high-ranking cabinet post. Hope this convoluted explanation doesn't make things worse.

Yes there had been conquest by force, but by the 1930s this was firmly in the past. Furthermore, the British Empire was much more nuanced than it is generally portrayed. None of the big three possessions were a conventional conquest. Parts of North America and Australia could be viewed, at least from a contemporary standpoint, as essentially uninhabited. North America had of course a revolution and one of the major contributing factors of the Revolution was the British government actually forbidding the colonists to expand their territory by seizing land from the natives to the west. The circumstances leading to the rule of India were incredibly complicated and could be crudely described, at least initially, as a corporate takeover. At any rate India had been in a de facto state of being governed by Britain for well over 150 years. Even with the large independence movement much later there was a great ambivalence about British rule and a large section of the population were content with the status quo. There was great respect and even love of Britain which (apart from the main factor, the Hindu religion) contributed towards the popularity of Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence.

Churchill is only stating the reasonable and humane point of view that Britain had reached, that conquest of sovereign nations for selfish reasons was wrong - his argument against Indian self-rule was primarily based on fears of the consequences, which were borne out by the slaughter that occurred during Partition. To bash him with 'what's good for the goose...', especially when you are yourself opposed to what is good for the goose and in any case are in agreement with Churchill, hardly seems fair.

One other problem is that in many respects the British pre-20th century did clearly know better than many undeveloped nations, this of course did not mean that it was preferable or right.

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 21, 2009 08:30PM) (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod
Hello Antiquary,

I was thinking of you when I posted about our group members from the UK and glad you responded.

First, let me say that I agree with your last sentence; but unfortunately now I think the US suffers from the same position; but I agree with the point you are making.

Thank you for your explanation about the gift versus elected positions. However, I do disagree respectfully about the contributing factors of what we called the American Revolution; taxation and many other issues I think pushed us over the edge even though many were very torn about their decisions.

I think that Churchill considered India one of the crown jewels. And I tend to agree that many in India were content with their position; but then Ghandi came along. Many in the UK govt. opposed Churchill and his position on India; being a Churchill enthusiast (I much admire him); still I think that his attitudes and positions on India did not serve him or Britain well. He loved India and had fond memories of his time there and his entitled way of life; and "that" I think stood in the way of his making a more reasoned policy decision when it came to India; he was also highly insulted by Ghandi, his mode of dress and his recalcitrant ways. So from the get go they were at loggerheads with each other. There will always be consequences when a new country is being born. Even the Churchill Centre and the Churchill Museum present the opposing view and seem to acknowledge that his position on India and how he promoted these attitudes did not serve him well.

It is terrific being able to debate different viewpoints; I do agree with Sarah about Mussolini and that Churchill was ignoring the British empire's conquests. Churchill when wrong or even when he simply was on a slippery slope with his argument had the tendency to become even more self righteous and puffed up.

But at the end of the day, he was a truly great man and I wish we had more of him now or at least one man of his caliber.


message 14: by The Antiquary (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments Definitely you are right Bentley about the reasons for the American Revolution, I mentioned the point as just one of the factors only to stress that the British were not solely obsessed about grabbing lots of land for the sake of it.

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod
Agreed Antiquary.

message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 22, 2009 12:40PM) (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod

Agree with sentence one.
Regarding sentence two: Charity should begin at home for sure (don't think we do enough of that); but if these countries of the emerging world need our help and ask for our assistance; of course it should be given and I think it has been.
Regarding sentence three: I think there are a lot of thoughtful countries who do not share their wealth to the extent that the USA and the UK share theirs in proportion to their GDP. However, most of the charity from the USA comes from personal donations which is not even equated to the US GDP.
Regarding sentence four: The line is crossed; in (MHO) when something is expected in return; as a parent even I know not to give advice when not asked. Better for everyone all around; families and nations. Don't stick your nose into affairs when you are not wanted. I also think the founding fathers had it right when they stated that the US should not get involved with foreign entanglements. There should be no strings attached either from the giver or from the taker. One other thing which I might add is that with the global economy and world problems including the environmental and nuclear issues; we certainly cannot solve them alone; I do not think we should play or assume the role of the parent.

message 17: by The Antiquary (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments One, I think clear-cut, modern example of a line being crossed is the food aid offered and refused because the grain would only be given on condition that it was a genetically modified variety (Monsanto I think), which does not seed itself and meant that farmers would have become reliant on that corporation and would not have had permission to grow that crop independently.

Unbelievable that they would try to introduce a new form of feudalism and try to control the right to grow food. It gave unnecessary ammunition to those who choose bash America and ignore that it is the largest giver of aid in the world.

message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 23, 2009 04:22PM) (new)

Bentley | 44125 comments Mod
Antiquary, an excellent example. Monsanto doesn't have much of a positive image even here in the US; so why am I not surprised. It is too bad that folks would choose to bash America; it is true about the amount of aid that comes from here and not just from the govt.; but individual givers. A real shame; but your post certainly shows one of those examples where there are many strings attached.

message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments Antiquary, thanks for your response on the parlimentary process. It actually does make sense (although I had to read it more than once).


message 20: by The Antiquary (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments You're welcome. Willing to explain any more British weirdnesses as they crop up.

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