NEITHER FRIEND NOR FOE by Jerrold M. Packard


The European Neutrals in World War II
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 Unpretentious, well-developed history of WW II from the viewpoints of the European neutrals, by Packard (History/Univ. of Portland; Sons of Heaven, 1987, etc.). Packard writes highly readable, down-to-earth history, and he explicates the practical and ethical problems of neutrality with a convincing concreteness as well, making it clear that realism, flexibility, and diplomatic finesse were required to survive as a neutral living cheek by jowl with great and greedy powers. And courage, too: Switzerland's General Guisan and Sweden's Prime Minister Hannson never blinked when threatened by Germany. Packard presents his neutrals' situations clearly: Switzerland, located at the juncture of Maginot and Siegfried lines, was a convenient area for flanking movements by either side in the war, and its tunnels connected Germany with Italy. Swedish iron-ore was crucial to the German war effort, and ties between Sweden and Germany were close. Though without an army, Ireland, through an incomprehensible Neville Chamberlain decision on the eve of the war, controlled ports crucial to British defense, prompting Churchill to advocate any means to regain them. And Portugal had to balance its traditional alliance with England (which protected Portugal's colonies) against the possibility of German victory and the geographic proximity of a Spain too weakened by civil war to be of use to Germany, but still a threat to Portugal. Packard explores the developments step by intricate step, presenting Sweden's case, complicated by geography, as the most difficult, requiring that nation to repeatedly resist Allied and German pressures for access to its transport. King Gustav's brinkmanship with Hitler over the priceless iron-ore fields is riveting. Within this long but well-told cliffhanger, Packard weaves a message: that neutrals are not mere cowardly inconveniences to the great powers, but are nations with cultures and agendas (and diplomatic know-how) of durable value. (Maps.)

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1992
ISBN: 0-684-19248-9
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1992


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