THE SECOND WORLD WAR, VOLUME 2
Their Finest Hour
Newspaper syndication and LIFE magazine serialization have brought a generous proportion of the text of this second volume of Churchill's war memoirs to an eager public. Nonetheless, this -- in the case of The Gathering Storm -- seemed only to pique interest and curiosity. This second volume covers an intensely dramatic part of Britain's struggle, as France fell, the miracle of Dunkirk stirred the world, Italy entered on the side of Germany, England's strength was rebuilt from the bottom, the air war reached and passed its peak in the Battle of Britain, strength in the Mediterranean was reestablished, the African campaign turned to victory, the invasion of Greece by Italy posed a new problem, the U.S.A. and Britain drew closer together with the destroyer- air base deal and the establishment of Lend-Lease, and the Russian alliance with Germany passed into a dubious state. Churchill shares much that we did not know at the time:-the extent of knowledge of Germany's abortive plans for invasion, the foreknowledge of Hitler's decision to attack Russia, the "deal" with Spain, the hesitancy attendant on relations with the De Gaulle forces, the "leak" that resulted in disaster in west Africa. A careful comparison of the LIFE serialization with the finished book indicates that while a better job of editing has been done, there is still in the book a flavor or the Churchill who dominated the war years that the cutting has somehow lost. In a few instances, whole facets of the story have been omitted (non-essential to the flow, but interesting for rounding it out). In one instance- possibly more- LIFE has included material omitted from the book for reasons of policy, no doubt. An essential book for those who want the war from the inside in Britain. But for some indefinable reason, this second volume lacks the verve, the zest, the heady excitement of the first. Nonetheless, a sure best seller.