By the end of 1940 Britain defiantly stood alone against Nazi tyranny. Appeasement of the late 1930s was a reaction against the slaughter of the First World War, even after the fall of France some in power advocated a peace with Germany.
In this episode of the podcast I talk to John Kelly. We discuss why Britain chose to fight with the odds stacked against her following the fiasco in Norway, the fall of Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. We examine how the public mood changed and Churchill’s rise to Prime Minister.
“WWII scholar John Kelly triumphs again” (Vanity Fair) in this remarkably vivid account of a key moment in Western history: The critical six months in 1940 when Winston Churchill debated whether England should fight Nazi Germany—and then decided to “never surrender.”London in April, 1940, is a place940, is a place of great fear and conflict. The Germans have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. The Nazi war machine now menaces Britain, even as America remains uncommitted to providing military aid. Should Britain negotiate with Germany? The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, and are divided. Churchill, leading the faction to fight, and Lord Halifax, cautioning that prudence is the way to survive, attempt to usurp one another by any means possible. In Never Surrender, we feel we are alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire, and perhaps, the world.
Drawing on the War Cabinet papers, other government documents, private diaries, newspaper accounts, and memoirs, historian John Kelly tells the story of the summer of 1940. Kelly takes readers from the battlefield to Parliament, to the government ministries, to the British high command, to the desperate Anglo-French conference in Paris and London, to the American embassy in London, and to life with the ordinary Britons. We see Churchill seize the historical moment and ultimately inspire his government, military, and people to fight. Kelly brings to life one of the most heroic moments of the twentieth century and intimately portrays some of its largest players—Churchill, Lord Halifax, Hitler, FDR, Joe Kennedy, and others. Never Surrender is a fabulous, grand narrative of a crucial period in World War II and the men and women who shaped it. “For lovers of minute-by-minute history, it’s a feast” (Huffington Post).
John is the author of Never Surrender.