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Missed Chances: Britain and Europe in the Twentieth Century

Roy Denman (1996)

“At the opening of the 20th century, Denman writes, ‘Britain, as the center of the biggest empire in the world, was at the zenith of her power and glory…. Britain will end the [20th] century little more important than Switzerland…the biggest secular decline in power since seventeenth century Spain.’ This is a summation of the disasters that befell the British Empire and nation, and the reasons why.”

The Origins of the Second World War

A.J.P. Taylor (1996)

“The altarpiece of a great historian and courageous man whose judgment that Hitler, far from being hell-bent on world domination, was in the tradition of German statesmen, ignited immense controversy when it first appeared. Taylor’s rendition of the events leading up to World War II is now being accorded greater respect, at the expense of the Munich myth. It was not Munich, but the war guarantee to Poland that guaranteed the war.”

Advance to Barbarism: The Development of Total Warfare

F.J.P. Veale (1948)

“The Good War is described in all its barbarity in this brave book, which the media shunned in what Columbia University historian Harry Elmer Barnes called ‘The Historical Blackout.’ Recounted are the massacre of the 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn, the ethnic cleansing in an orgy of rape and murder of 13-15 million Germans from Pomerania, East Prussia, Silesia, and the Sudetenland, and the revelation that Churchill secretly initiated the terror bombing of World War II.”

Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship

Robert Nisbet (1988)

“This slim volume recounts the appeasement of Stalin by FDR and Churchill at Tehran and Yalta that led to a 40-year Cold War. Churchill wanted to stand up for the Czechs at Munich. Chamberlain gave a war guarantee to the Poles. Both peoples ended up in the slave empire of the mass murderer who had colluded with Hitler in starting the war. Nisbet is pitiless in his portrayals.”

Unconditional Hatred: German War Guilt and the Future of Europe

Captain Russell Grenfell, R.N. (1953)

“An eminently readable diplomatic history of how Britain abandoned the ‘splendid isolation’ of Lord Salisbury to ensnare herself in the power politics and European wars of the 20th century. Grenfell’s work is laced with bitterness at what might have been and should have been had Britain been led by wiser statesmen.”

A White House aide to Presidents Nixon and Reagan and a three-time presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan has authored a dozen books, including the controversial Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War. He regards World War II as the product of failed statesmanship and fatal blunders. His selections reflect his belief that, the heroism of British and American fighting men notwithstanding, the war was an avoidable calamity. His new book, out in July, is The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create America’s New Majority.


Originally published in the August 2014 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.