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Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941by Ian Kershaw
"As Ian Kershaw was having lunch one day with Laurence Rees, Rees mentioned that if he were a historian he would write a book about 1941, as it seemed that was a very pivotal year. Pondering it further, Kershaw elected to extend his reach back into 1940, and concentrate on several specific decisions made by leaders and governments. Were these decisions inevitable or avoidable? What information was available to the decision makers, and what is known about their deliberations? The result is an in-depth analysis of a crucial two-year period in 20th-century history." Doug Brown, Powells.com (Read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
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. How were these decisions made? What were the options facing these leaders as they saw them? What intelligence, right and wrong, did they have? What was the impact of personality, what that of larger forces? In a brilliant work with haunting contemporary relevance, Ian Kershaw tells the connected stories of these ten fateful decisions from the shifting perspectives of the protagonists, and in so doing rescues them from the sense of inevitability that now envelops them and restores to them a feeling of vivid drama and contingency-the feeling that things could have turned out very differently indeed. Each chapter follows the process of arriving at one decision, from the viewpoint of the leader who made it:
A spellbinding re-creation of a dramatic sequence of ten decisions made by the leaders of the worlds six major powers — Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Mussolini, and Tojo — in the 19 months between May 1940 and December 1941 that reshaped human destiny.
An acclaimed historian re-creaties a dramatic sequence of ten decisions made by the leaders of the world's six major powers--Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Mussolini, and Tojo--that reshaped human destiny.
The newest immensely original undertaking from the historian who gave us the defining two-volume portrait of Hitler, Fateful Choices puts Ian Kershaw?s analytical and storytelling gifts on dazzling display. From May 1940 to December 1941, the leaders of the world?s six major powers made a series of related decisions that determined the final outcome of World War II and shaped the course of human destiny. As the author examines the connected stories of these profound choices, he restores a sense of drama and contingency to this pivotal moment, producing one of the freshest, most important books on World War II in years?one with powerful contemporary relevance.
The history of the Second World War, with its horrible twists and turns, is so well known that the major events and their outcomes have taken on a sort of inevitability. Ian Kershaw's extraordinarily thought-provoking and gripping new book, FATEFUL CHOICES, demolishes any such sense of inevitability. He examines closely eleven episodes at the heart of the War where there was an immense range of options open to planners and decision-makers. From declarations of war down to operational priorities, choices were made that could have resulted in an almost unrecognisably different conflict. Other viewpoints were passionately and articulately argued by powerful, ruthless advocates. In no case was the decision that prevailed to any degree foreordained.
About the Author
Ian Kershaw studied at Liverpool and Oxford universities. He has taught at the University of Manchester, at the Ruhr University in Bochum, West Germany, at the University of Nottingham, and since 1989 has been Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield. He is the author, most recently, of Making Friends with Hitler, which won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, and the definitive two-volume biography of Hitler, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. The first volume was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, and the second volume won the Wolfson Literary Award for History and the inaugural British Academy Book Prize.
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