Book Review: Churchill's War

by Rich Brooks

2 March 2005

[Churchill's War, by David Irving. Avon Books (1987)]

I have finally finished reading this definitive account of Winston Churchill's activities prior to and during the early war years of 1939-1941. Churchill has of course been lionized by the British public to the point that a recent BBC poll named him as the greatest Englishman of all time, easily beating out such notables as Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, and Sir Thomas More. It is not just revisionist historians who are re-evaluating their assessments of this "Great Man," however. By coincidence, on the very day I finished Churchill's War, I received a new issue of Smithsonian magazine featuring a lengthy article entitled "Rethinking Churchill." That headline is deceiving, because I searched in vain for any mention of David Irving, but then no wonder: the article was written by one Edward Rothstein, and is critical of Churchill for only such things as his alleged "racism" and love of the British Empire.

In fact, there are many things to be critical of about Churchill, and Irving's book paints a devastating picture of a vain, stubborn, prideful, deceitful, and besotted man. Not only that, but his leadership was oftentimes incompetent and his policies disastrous. From the time he was appointed First Lord Navy Minister in 1911, his military decisions were invariably wrongheaded. But he could be a great orator and somehow had the knack of being in the right place at the right time.

David Irving is in fact the greatest historian of World War II. You will read many more details in his books than perhaps your mind can absorb. It is not light, beach or bedtime-reading fare, but if you are able to wade through the 591 pages (not including footnotes), you will be well-rewarded. Irving, unlike many academic historians, uses only original sources for his material. By this, I mean diaries, private letters and official documents rather than some political figure's self-serving account. (Churchill's own books about the war are a prime example of such self-serving propaganda pieces written to enhance his reputation. "I shall write the history of this war," he once famously said.)

What emerges conclusively from this book is the undeniable fact that World War II could easily have been avoided and that Winston Churchill bears the brunt of the blame for this tragedy. We now know, largely thanks to David Irving, that Hitler never wished to make war with Britain and even as late as 1941 an honorable peace was still possible. Hitler was in fact an admirer of the British Empire, and his peace terms would have allowed her to keep that empire; all Germany wanted was a free hand on the continent and perhaps her former African colonies back (although Irving presents evidence that Hitler didn't even make this an ironclad demand). How ironic that Churchill, the great proponent of Empire, would end up losing in the end what Hitler was prepared to allow him to keep with basically no strings attached. The infamous Rudolf Hess affair is just one evidence of Churchill's treachery in thwarting of the peace process. Irving relates the following exchange between Ambassador Joseph Kennedy and former President Herbert Hoover: "Told of Hitler's terms, the former president gasped: 'Why didn't the British accept?' 'Nothing but Churchill's bullheadedness,' replied Kennedy." (p.428)

It is clear now that Britain would have lost the war had Churchill not managed to drag the U.S. into it. Roosevelt, despite his public posturing for a pro-isolationist American public, was only too happy to oblige. However, according to Irving, Roosevelt at first drove a hard bargain with the now-bankrupt British in 1941, sending some old, useless destroyers in exchange for valuable technical secrets and strategic bases in the West Indies.

Churchill's managerial style was both officious and incoherent. He would frequently hold cabinet meetings that lasted until 2:00 a.m., by which point he was usually fairly drunk and rambling. He surrounded himself with yes men, the notable exception being the truly aristocratic Lord Halifax. Chamberlain, commonly vilified in mainstream history as an "appeaser," does not come off too badly in Irving's account, but by the time Churchill became prime minister, he seemed to have lost his appetite for a fight. Secret intelligence sources also played a big role in Churchill's ability to control his underlings. He could appear brave in climbing up on the rooftop during a bombing raid, but he had received previous knowledge of the bombs' intended targets and knew he was in no danger.

In a comparison between Britain's and Germany's wartime leaders, Hitler comes off far more honorably than Churchill in Irving's book. Despite his reputation as a "revisionist" and even a "holocaust denier," David Irving is at heart a British patriot who rues the loss of Empire and national power and wealth. He is, I am sure, very bitter toward WSC for destroying the Britain that once was, but he generally lets the facts speak for themselves and carefully weighs his conclusions. His commentary is often witty and the book is far more than a dry recitation of dates and events.

There is considerable documentation of jewish and particularly Zionist influence on Churchill, which undoubtedly kindled his fanaticism in pursuing his war aims. At one point near bankruptcy and in danger of losing his family estate Chartwell, he was rescued by American jew Bernard Baruch, a power behind the throne in American politics as well. In the years prior to the war when he had been cast out into the political wilderness, he was involved with a heavily jewish group named "The Focus." To quote Irving, "In view of the substantial Jewish contribution to The Focus, it would have been surprising if Mr. Churchill had not become by 1937 a committed Zionist." (p.83)

I have only scratched the surface of the wealth of historical information and insightful commentary contained in Churchill's War. But I hope I have whetted the reader's appetite to read more about the most treacherous political leader of the Twentieth Century, a man who perhaps more than any other White man is responsible for the rapid decline of our race.


Mr. Brooks edits

Back to VNN Main Page