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eBook Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 epub

by Ian Kershaw

eBook Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 epub
  • ISBN: 0141014180
  • Author: Ian Kershaw
  • Genre: History
  • Subcategory: World
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (February 1, 2008)
  • Pages: 656 pages
  • ePUB size: 1163 kb
  • FB2 size 1503 kb
  • Formats lrf txt doc docx


A study of the interlocking key decisions by the leaders of the major powers during those extraordinary months between May 1940 and December 1941 started to take embryonic shape in my mind

A study of the interlocking key decisions by the leaders of the major powers during those extraordinary months between May 1940 and December 1941 started to take embryonic shape in my mind. So my first warm thanks are owing to Laurence for the initial impulse to undertake this book. As usual, numerous other debts of gratitude have been incurred along the way and my brief acknowledgement here can only offer a cursory expression of my thanks. It is right, however, to single out the Leverhulme Foundation, for whose generosity I am once more deeply grateful.

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In Fateful ChoicesIan Kershaw re-creates the ten critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe's Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history. this book actually alters our perspective of the Second World War' Andrew Roberts. This fascinating, closely-argued book adds to our understanding of a terrible war' Alan Massie. A compelling re-examination of the conflict.

He reexamines the critical decisions made in 1940 and 1941 by the major participants in World War II and asks what .

He reexamines the critical decisions made in 1940 and 1941 by the major participants in World War II and asks what might have happened had they been made differently. What if is, of course, hardly a rare question asked by historians, amateur and professional. It is an integral part of the game. Author Kershaw looks through a microscope at 10 key decisions that resulted in practically the whole world becoming engaged in war. The unique aspect of this book is to combine the fateful decisions made by five world leaders (and one imbecile) during the years 1940 and 1941.

In a mere nineteen months, from May 1940 to December 1941, the leaders of the world's six major powers made a series of related decisions that decided the course and outcome of World War II, cost the lives of millions, and profoundly shaped the course of human destiny from that point forward

Ian Kershaw doesn’t go quite that far in Fateful Choices, but he does attempt to. .

Ian Kershaw doesn’t go quite that far in Fateful Choices, but he does attempt to show how one of the most consequential events of the 20th century - World War II - took shape, and why it might have turned out differently. His contention is that the fateful choices made by the leaders of the world’s major powers within a mere 19 months, between May 1940 and December 1941, largely determined the course of future events - not only the outcome of World War II but also the shape of the postwar world. These are the turning points he chooses

In a mere nineteen months, from May 1940 to December 1941, the leaders of the world's six major powers made a series of related decisions that decided the course and outcome of World War II, cost the lives of millions, and profoundly shaped the course of human destiny from that point.

In a mere nineteen months, from May 1940 to December 1941, the leaders of the world's six major powers made a series of related decisions that decided the course and outcome of World War II, cost the lives of millions, and profoundly shaped the course of human destiny from that point forward

Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices brilliantly analyses the key decisions that . Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World 1940-41.

Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices brilliantly analyses the key decisions that shaped the second world war, says Antony Beevor. 656pp, Allen Lane, £30. As with all good ideas, one wonders why this one had not been thought of before. The Wehrmacht then invaded Yugoslavia and Greece in the spring of 1941, which at least secured the southern flank for the invasion of the Soviet Union and protected Romanian oil reserves. Hitler, who remained sceptical of the airborne invasion of Crete in May, was reassured that the Allies could not use it later as a bomber base to attack the Ploesti oilfields.

By Ian Kershaw many hottest, most crucial books on global warfare II in years?one with strong modern relevance.

From may possibly 1940 to December 1941, the leaders of the world?s six significant powers made a chain of comparable judgements that decided the ultimate consequence of global struggle II and formed the process human future.

Kershaw's fascinating book describes 10 such choices, from Britain's decision to fight on, through Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, to Germany's declaration of war on America. History tends to make decisions seem inevitable, part of an ineluctable process with no alternatives, but the great value of Fateful Choices is the way it delineates the thought processes involved and shows they were far from inevitable. Thus Churchill's stirring rhetoric about never surrendering masked agonising discussions in the War Cabinet during May 1940, when, with troops trapped at Dunkirk.

Comments: (7)
Stonewing
Ian Kershaw, the British historian renowned for his authoritative biography of Adolph Hitler has, in Fateful Choices, widened his scope. He reexamines the critical decisions made in 1940 and 1941 by the major participants in World War II and asks what might have happened had they been made differently.

“What if” is, of course, hardly a rare question asked by historians, amateur and professional. It is an integral part of the game. “What if Halifax rather than Churchill had been chosen wartime Prime Minister?”. “What if Hitler had stuck with his plan to invade Britain rather than turning on the Soviet Union instead?”. “What if Mussolini had not foolishly decided to invade Greece?”. “What if the paranoid Stalin had not purged his Red Army leadership in 1939 and then, in early 1940 acted on, rather than ignoring, multiple intelligence reports of an imminent German invasion?” “What if the Japanese had decided to invade Siberia rather than Indochina and attacking Pearl Harbor?. “What if Roosevelt had acted more decisively in support of Britain in 1940 and 1941?”

Kershaw examines these and dozens of related questions in great detail over the course of almost 500 pages. The speculation makes for entertaining reading despite a fair amount of repetition. At the end, as is so often the case in the game of “What if?”, he concludes that the personalities of the key players and the circumstances under which they operated, made the decisions reached inevitable.

In a brief “Afterthoughts” chapter at the end of the book he concedes that “what if scenarios” are “a harmless but pointless diversion from the real question of what happened and why.” His preceding chapters, he suggests “have shown in each case why … alternatives were ruled out”. So much, then, for all the “what ifs”.
Blackseeker
According to Ian Kershaw the main decisons made by the Axis and Allied powers were not planned in advance but improvised as battlefield successes and failures changed. This book needs to be read alongside Hew Strachan's new book about Clausewitz's "On War," because according to Strachan's interpretation of Clausewitz, tactical successes or failures ulitimately shape strategy. This was seen in Kershaw's view of why Hitler choose to attack the Soviet Union. Kershaw states that Hitler attacked the Soviet Union because he could not defeat Britain during the Battle of Britain, and by overthrowing the Soviet regime maybe the English would plead for a settlement. Meanwhile the Japanese attacked the United States due to the German victories in Europe and their own defeat to the Soviet Union in 1939. The Japanese military successes in Asia persuaded Hitler to declare war against the United States because he thought that the Americans would be too distracted in the Far East.
Kershaw disagrees with the think tank strategist of the fifties and sixties who believed that democracy hindered the decision making process. Mussolini,Hitler,and the Japanese military leaders led their nations to defeat because they failed to hear conflicting advice. But Churchill had a unified front because he had the support of the cabinet and Roosevelt's sensitivity towards public opinion prevented him from making any rash decisions that were detrimental to the Allied effort. The only weakness of this book is that in his section about Stalin, Kersahaw ignored traditional Russian and later Soviet suspicions of England, that made Stalin ignore British intelligence warnings that Hitler was going to attack the Soviet Union. Also Kershaw does not write about how Hitler's strategic decisions reflected his Austrian upringing as mentioned by Martin Van Creveld.
MisterQweene
Author Kershaw looks through a microscope at 10 key decisions that resulted in practically the whole world becoming engaged in war. The unique aspect of this book is to combine the fateful decisions made by five world leaders (and one imbecile) during the years 1940 and 1941.

Other reviewers have spelled out the ten decisions so I won't repeat them. First of all I will explain what I mean by saying one member of this group is an imbecile. I'm talking about Mussolini, and at the end of a chapter on him Mr. Kershaw, in frustration, calls him that name. Indeed the chapter on Mussolini can almost be considered, tragically of course, a bit of comic relief. Mussolini was like a puppy dog trying to tag along with his master, Hitler, and get some glory for himself. What should he do in the midst of victory after victory by Germany. He decides why not invade Greece. He sits down with his marginally competent general staff, and in an hour and a half discussion they decide to invade. That's it. No long term, detailed plans, just that short chat. Italy is almost bankrupt, does not have a well trained army, lacks sophisticated equipment yet invades Greece within weeks of that meeting, and gets, well, stuck in the mud so to speak.

What's interesting about the other fateful decisions is that each leader was well out on a limb when his country decided to ease or jump into war. At that time, for example, the United States had an army about the size of the Dutch army. All of the countries faced economic problems, and most of them had not learned an awful lot from their experiences in WWI.

Roosevelt's task was to ease the country toward helping Britain by gradually coaxing the public and congress along toward that end. Japan's leaders vacillated about entering a war with the U.S., but felt they had to do just that following America's embargo on scrap iron and oil shipments. Stalin was deluded into thinking that Germany would not invade Russia until 1942, and tended to disregard all evidence that indicated the attack would be in 1941. When the invasion took place he was so shaken that he could not function for several days. Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini were prompted by maintaining national prestige. Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill were trying to keep their world from collapsing. Hitler declared war on the U.S. without consulting with any of his advisors.

This is a fascinating book that ties together all of the elements that led our world leaders into the worst war of all time. I might point out that for some WWII buffs certain chapters may not provide new information to the reader. There are other books, such as biographies of Hitler, Roosevelt and Stalin, that cover one of these chapters in even greater detail, but this may be the only book that examines all the major world leaders during the time period 1940-1941. The only thing that frustrated me is that each chapter usually ends at a momentous decision point, and you think "more, more, don't stop here." Well the thing to do is just get more books that do go on from there.
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