The second volume of Churchill’s War covers the middle years of this disastrous conflict. After the first volume chronicled an almost unbroken series of disasters in his life, from Gallipoli and the Chanak crisis to the defeat of France and the military fiasco in Greece, the second sees him enter happier times, with great naval victories, El Alamein and the landings in North Africa.
We hear in this volume odd stories about Mr Churchill’s habits of receiving his staff in a state of nudity, and no less quirky stories of another great prime minister’s habit of reaching decisions according to what the hands of the clock told him, or the voice of his long dead dog.
The human Winston Churchill reaches boldly out of this second volume, as from the first: bullying, bold, incorrigible, and callous, hectoring his own ministers but subservient to both Moscow and Washington and mindlessly sacrificing the British empire’s interests when those powers so dictated. The unpalatable picture that emerges of this war leader in Real History is unchallengeable – that he willingly fomented, prosecuted, and indeed prolonged the war against Hitler, not in pursuit of any fundamental British empire interest, for Britain and her empire were never threatened by Hitler’s Germany; but to acquire money and power after years in the wilderness and poverty; and that he was undismayed to see the British empire ruined in the process.