hits counter Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat Into Victory - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat Into Victory

Availability: Ready to download

In an absorbing work peopled with world leaders, generals, and ordinary citizens who fought on both sides of World War II, Alone brings to resounding life perhaps the most critical year of twentieth-century history. For, indeed, May 1940 was a month like no other, as the German war machine blazed into France while the supposedly impregnable Maginot Line crumbled, and Winst In an absorbing work peopled with world leaders, generals, and ordinary citizens who fought on both sides of World War II, Alone brings to resounding life perhaps the most critical year of twentieth-century history. For, indeed, May 1940 was a month like no other, as the German war machine blazed into France while the supposedly impregnable Maginot Line crumbled, and Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister in an astonishing political drama as Britain, isolated and alone, faced a triumphant Nazi Germany. Against this vast historical canvas, Michael Korda relates what happened and why, and also tells his own story, that of a six-year-old boy in a glamorous movie family who would himself be evacuated. Alone is a work that seamlessly weaves a family memoir into an unforgettable account of a political and military disaster redeemed by the evacuation of more than 300,000 men in four days―surely one of the most heroic episodes of the war.


Compare

In an absorbing work peopled with world leaders, generals, and ordinary citizens who fought on both sides of World War II, Alone brings to resounding life perhaps the most critical year of twentieth-century history. For, indeed, May 1940 was a month like no other, as the German war machine blazed into France while the supposedly impregnable Maginot Line crumbled, and Winst In an absorbing work peopled with world leaders, generals, and ordinary citizens who fought on both sides of World War II, Alone brings to resounding life perhaps the most critical year of twentieth-century history. For, indeed, May 1940 was a month like no other, as the German war machine blazed into France while the supposedly impregnable Maginot Line crumbled, and Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister in an astonishing political drama as Britain, isolated and alone, faced a triumphant Nazi Germany. Against this vast historical canvas, Michael Korda relates what happened and why, and also tells his own story, that of a six-year-old boy in a glamorous movie family who would himself be evacuated. Alone is a work that seamlessly weaves a family memoir into an unforgettable account of a political and military disaster redeemed by the evacuation of more than 300,000 men in four days―surely one of the most heroic episodes of the war.

30 review for Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat Into Victory

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Side by side...the British and French people have advanced to rescue not Europe only but mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history. Behind them gather a group of shattered states and bludgeoned races, the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians--upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend unbroken by even a star of hope, unless we conquer--as conquer we must--as conquer we shall. ”Side by side...the British and French people have advanced to rescue not Europe only but mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history. Behind them gather a group of shattered states and bludgeoned races, the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians--upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend unbroken by even a star of hope, unless we conquer--as conquer we must--as conquer we shall.” ----Winston Churchill Winston Churchill addressing the nation, nay the world, he was trying to save. If you ever feel the need to be inspired about humanity again, take the time to read or listen to the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill. He was not only a gifted writer, but a brilliant orator. He could move even his most ardent enemies to tears. I can’t imagine the world would be the place it is today if Churchill had not become Prime Minister of Great Britain at one of the most critical eras in the history of the World. There were many moments, especially during the early part of the war, when he took the fears of his whole nation on his back and molded that fear into an unshakeable resolve. ”We shall fight on beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender and if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God's good time the New World with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of the Old.” ----Winston Churchill Michael Korda was a young boy of privilege during WW2. The actress Merle Oberon was his aunt. The great director and producer Alexander Korda was his uncle. His father was an art director in the movies, and his mother was an actress. When the war started coming to the shores of England, the Kordas were in America making movies, like That Hamilton Woman (1941), as propaganda films to raise morale in England. There is no better way to bring a tear to the eye of an Englishman than to evoke the name of Horatio Nelson. The movie, which stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, is actually really good, so do watch it if you get a chance. Korda’s mother always felt guilty that they did not suffer in London with the rest of their friends, as if avoiding the pain and danger was somehow shirking the duty of her heritage. A few years ago, I read this diary of a German soldier, and he wrote about how the Germans had such a hard time catching up with the French because they were fleeing like rabbits in front of them, but they knew instantly when they hit the British line. They weren’t running. They were there to fight. The blitzkrieg was blowing through countries within days that should have taken months. The French had one of the largest standing armies in the world, and the Germans were going through it like tinfoil. ”It was not for lack of brave officers and soldiers that the French Army was collapsing; it was more because of the fatal strategic misjudgment, paralysis of will, helpless pessimism, and political intrigue at the top, combined with certain areas in which the French armed forces were poorly equipped for a modern war, especially an inadequate and obsolete air force.” There was the lure of Paris, a mere 30 miles in their rear where their beautiful girlfriends/wives, good food, and bottles of wine were waiting for them. Korda commented that the French soldiers also felt like they were doing all the dying for the British. This bothers me given the fact that these French soldiers were defending their own soil. If that was their attitude, I can see why morale was an issue. I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to see a division of Panzer tanks coming down the hill towards me. There were opportunities. The German tank blitzkrieg was running so far ahead of the German foot soldiers that some organization on the part of the French could have punched holes in the German line and cut the tanks off from their support and inflicted some defeats on an army that was starting to feel unbeatable. When I watch football and the defense is blitzing the quarterback, I always think about the opportunities that overcommitment from the defense has for a steely nerved quarterback who can hang in the pocket long enough to find those open receivers. The French needed that one guy who could provide the leadership to achieve victory out of defeat. Meanwhile, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) were doing all they could to slow the Germans long enough to find a way back to England. No one had expected the French army to be crushed so easily. As the BEF slowly compressed backwards onto the beaches of Dunkirk, the situation was dire; in fact, if the Germans managed to capture the British Army, the war would most certainly be over. The appeasers in the British government would gain the power to negotiate a peace settlement, which would have been dire for France, but would have most certainly gutted the British of their pride and joy...the navy. Hitler would have wanted that glittering array of ships. Who would have stood in the way of Adolf Hitler? The title of this book is apt…Alone; that is the situation that Britain found herself in, with the flower of her army trapped on a beach a mere thirty miles from the white cliffs of Dover. If you haven’t seen Dunkirk (2017) directed by Christopher Nolan, please do so. There are scenes in that movie that are going to haunt me for the rest of my life. It is simply brilliant. The quiet, the building tension, the desperation, and the moments of true heroics are just so splendidly balanced to leave the viewer completely emotionally wrung out by the ending credits. I’ve always been emotional about Dunkirk because I feel it is quite possibly the grandest moment in world history. When the call is made to the British civilians to go get their boys off the beaches of Dunkirk, 850 crafts, a flotilla of shallow draft boats that could reach the beach, were launched. Everything that floats. I can only image what it must have looked like to see those tiny boats appearing on the horizon. They must have looked so fragile bobbing out on that big ocean. They helped save 198,000 British soldiers and 140,000 French soldiers. The Little Boats of Dunkirk. Korda will take you through it all, step by step. You will experience Churchill’s battles in Parliament and the rearguard action of those who slowed the German advance to give the men on Dunkirk beach a chance. The book is loaded with photographs, sprinkled throughout the text the way I like them best. Korda will also show you the important, baffling moment when Adolf Hitler... blinks... that allows Britain the slenderest of hopes of fighting on. They had to hold on until the New World could once again come and save the Old World. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    Although this book about the Great Rescue of Dunkirk doesn't necessarily add anything new for those of us who have read several books on this subject, Korda's style makes it all seem new again. This is a two layered story.......one about Dunkirk coupled with a partial autobiography about Korda's family during this very tense time in Britain. The author's father and uncles, Hungarian by birth, were in the top echelon of the film industry and were friends with the Churchill government which added Although this book about the Great Rescue of Dunkirk doesn't necessarily add anything new for those of us who have read several books on this subject, Korda's style makes it all seem new again. This is a two layered story.......one about Dunkirk coupled with a partial autobiography about Korda's family during this very tense time in Britain. The author's father and uncles, Hungarian by birth, were in the top echelon of the film industry and were friends with the Churchill government which added a bit of color to their lives and to the book. Lots of pictures of everyone from Rommel to Merle Oberon (the author's aunt by marriage) and maps of the movement of the German army as they slowly caught the BEF and French armies in a pincer movement which forced them to retreat until the sea was at their back. Over a million soldiers were trapped on the beaches under constant fire from German troops and the Luftwaffe. How to save the BEF was probably one of the hardest decisions that had to be made by the British and their solution was, to say the least, unusual.........the use of the "little boats", everything from ferries to privately owned yachts were gathered at Dover from all over the island and, accompanied by a limited number military ships, they set out for Dunkirk to rescue the trapped troops. It certainly sounded like an impossible task but instead turned a disaster into a victory. The author includes many personal stories of the rescuers/survivors which may be one of the reasons that the story is so appealing. There is even a connection with the ill-fated Titanic! I highly recommend this book, even if you have made a study of the Dunkirk experience. Fascinating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sean Smart

    A good introduction to the Dunkirk story and the fall of France in 1940 and very well illustrated but I found some errors and was not too impressed perhaps because it was written with an American audience in mind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    So much has been written about Churchill. Historians and authors are challenged to present information differently. Recently there have been several books published about Churchill. Michael Korda combines military history and memoirs in a unique manner to tell of the beginning of World War Two, the fall of France and the miracle of Dunkirk. Korda has stories within stories of tragedies and heroic acts. Korda states the French Army collapsed because of fatal strategic misjudgments, paralysis of wi So much has been written about Churchill. Historians and authors are challenged to present information differently. Recently there have been several books published about Churchill. Michael Korda combines military history and memoirs in a unique manner to tell of the beginning of World War Two, the fall of France and the miracle of Dunkirk. Korda has stories within stories of tragedies and heroic acts. Korda states the French Army collapsed because of fatal strategic misjudgments, paralysis of will, helpless pessimism, political intrigue and lack of leadership. The author reminds us that the British had a courageous, canny, inspirational leader in Winston S. Churchill. The book is well written and researched. This is definitely a British story. I enjoyed that the author included his family’s story into the mix of civilian stories. The story’s main thrust is of the British Expeditionary Forces retreating from the Nazi Blitzkrieg that leveled Belgium then turned toward Paris. Korda focused on the key players of Chamberlain, Churchill, Hitler and Admiral Bertram Ramsey. If you are interested in Churchill or World War II, you will enjoy this book. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is thirteen hours long. John Lee does an excellent job narrating the book. John Lee is one of my favorite narrators. Lee has won multiple Earphone Awards. In 2009 he won the Golden Voice Award and he has won a number of Audies in different genre over the years.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ozymandias

    I was interested in this book because it seemed to promise an account of a relatively unexplored aspect of World War 2: the activities of Britain during the time it alone was resisting the Nazis. It quickly became clear that this was not quite the intent of the book. Rather, it was a personal memoir about the author’s childhood mixed with an account of the start of the war up to the evacuation of Dunkirk. It would be unfair to judge a book harshly because it does not cover the material I’d want I was interested in this book because it seemed to promise an account of a relatively unexplored aspect of World War 2: the activities of Britain during the time it alone was resisting the Nazis. It quickly became clear that this was not quite the intent of the book. Rather, it was a personal memoir about the author’s childhood mixed with an account of the start of the war up to the evacuation of Dunkirk. It would be unfair to judge a book harshly because it does not cover the material I’d want it to, but I feel the confusion stemming from the title reflects deeper issues with the book. What is the book’s theme? It’s not Britain “alone” since The United Kingdom is allied with France for the entirety of the book. It would be closer to say that the theme was Britain coming to terms with the fact that it would inevitably have to conduct the war on its own, but this awareness really only shows up at the end. Most of the book is a basic narrative of the Battle for France. If this was the intended focus, then why does the book stop at Dunkirk and not the surrender of France? And why does the final chapter try so hard to capture “the national mood” as if this was the main purpose of the story? If this book is meant to show the effect this catastrophe had on the English then why doesn’t the homefront get any attention outside of the goings-on in Parliament and Downing Street? Honestly, this book feels like a collection of stories thrown together with no real thought to how they interconnect or relate to each other. As I understood it, the personal memoir seemed to be the main hook, but as Korda was all of seven when this was going down his personal observations offer little of value or interest. His family’s reactions are only dealt with on perhaps twenty of the book’s more than 500 pages and invariably get awkwardly inserted into the bigger picture. He clearly had only the vaguest idea what was going on and what his fellow countrymen were thinking. What’s more, his father (a successful Hollywood artist from Hungary) and mother (a famous British stage actress) were rather isolated from British society themselves and in fact took themselves to America shortly after the book ends. In other words, the personal connection is of the most tenuous sort. So it’s fair to say I found this book quite underwhelming. There are many better accounts of the opening year of the war out there. Shirer’s caustic The Collapse of the Third Republic remains a classic, although somewhat outdated. Ernest May’s iconoclastic Strange Victory is said to be excellent. Or seek out a general history of World War II, such as the ones by Martin Gilbert and John Keegan. For the English homefront there’s Juliet Gardiner’s excellent Wartime Britain, 1939-1945. All of these books know what story they want to tell and what subjects they want to cover.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    There’s a ton (literally) of good Churchill biographies. The problem is that his life was so enormously full and important, traditional biographies must necessarily give single events or small time periods within his life briefer treatment than they deserve. The crowded events of May 1940 and Dunkirk are among those. Thankfully, two recent movies (Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour) have brought deeper public attention and interest to that critical time. “Alone,” by Michael Korda, does an excellent jo There’s a ton (literally) of good Churchill biographies. The problem is that his life was so enormously full and important, traditional biographies must necessarily give single events or small time periods within his life briefer treatment than they deserve. The crowded events of May 1940 and Dunkirk are among those. Thankfully, two recent movies (Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour) have brought deeper public attention and interest to that critical time. “Alone,” by Michael Korda, does an excellent job of providing the deeper story, including detail around the build-up, actual events and strategic implications of the Dunkirk evacuation. The book is comprehensive but still very readable. It flows steadily and keeps the reader engaged. Like any good history, Alone blends the big-picture with individual human stories -- from homes in England and battlefields in Holland and Belgium, to a massively complicated evacuation of over 300,000 soldiers from a beach in France. Yet for all of it, the one theme that can’t help but emerge from the book is the singular courage of Winston Churchill. A truly amazing human yet not without his fair-share of human flaws and contradictions. Churchill himself wrote that courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others. Thank goodness for Churchill’s courage, for the world even today would look much different without it. Alone tells that story well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Blaine Welgraven

    “For the first time it was clear to those who listened to Churchill’s speech—and the whole country listened carefully—that all of the easy presumptions that had shored up appeasement, among them belief in the French Army, the legendary strength of the Maginot Line, the fighting qualities of the BEF, above all the hope that a deal of some kind might be made with Hitler at the last moment, were all swept away by his stark realism, and by the fact, now suddenly clear, that across the Channel a huge “For the first time it was clear to those who listened to Churchill’s speech—and the whole country listened carefully—that all of the easy presumptions that had shored up appeasement, among them belief in the French Army, the legendary strength of the Maginot Line, the fighting qualities of the BEF, above all the hope that a deal of some kind might be made with Hitler at the last moment, were all swept away by his stark realism, and by the fact, now suddenly clear, that across the Channel a huge, historic battle was being fought—and would very likely be lost." - Michael Korda, Alone Korda's writing is clear and crisp, summarizing highly complex military, political, and social elements in a narrative that manages to perfectly balance the personal and historical. Korda's narrative is unique, for three separate reasons: 1. Korda represents a rapidly dwindling number of British citizens who lived through Dunkirk, the Blitz, and World War II. Alone shines when Korda combines his meticulous research and incredible narrative with personal recollections (e.g.,"On this day, I was here with this person at his boat dock when the NCO arrived to 'inspect' his 15 foot yacht"). Korda doesn't overdo these personal moments; rather, he manages to find a perfect narrative rhythm, inserting his story into history at precisely timed instances, thus leaving the reader with a richer, more intimate picture of that long ago world. 2. Korda's autobiographical notes frequently move past mere personal reflection to elucidate oft forgotten social realities. Britain, as painted through Korda's eyes, was still a deeply class-conscious society, and remained riddled with stark political differences to boot. Korda carefully, but clearly removes some of the "romance" from Dunkirk, by using his personal memories to remind the reader of these political and social realities. No where is this tendency better illustrated than when Korda discusses Operation Pied Piper, the attempt by the British government to move millions of school children out of London to the English countryside. Korda describes "being moved about" between the homes of relatives, all in a sincere attempt to keep him from being sent countryside, and delves into the deep unpopularity of Pied Piper, which managed to upset both the urban families forcibly losing their children - and the rural families forced to receive them. These moments - where Korda uses the personal to illustrate the social - really make Alone stand apart. 3. Korda was - and is - the direct descendant of film royalty - the famous Korda brothers Zoltan and Alexander were his uncles, and his father was famed set-director Vincent Korda. I completed my Master's thesis in 2011, and chose to write as my subject the development of World War II filmography from 1941-1945, a study which included Zoltan Korda's Sahara. All this to say, I found it fascinating to learn more about the Korda brothers' fears, concerns, and continued efforts to move their various film projects forward, even as the British film industry essentially crashed down around them (they would ultimately move to California, allowing such film projects as That Hamilton Woman to continue). The above items lift Korda's Alone above most other narratives I've read, providing it with a uniqueness, complexity, and heart that is all its own. There are other more detailed accounts of the individual battles or engagements that led to Dunkirk, and even Dunkirk itself, but there are none I’ve encountered that quite capture this book's scope and soul. We won't have the Korda's of the world with us much longer - and ultimately that's a critical function of all good history - to remember what we’ve lost, and to understand what we’ve had. Deeply intimate, carefully historical, and beautifully written, Alone may do for you what it did for me - an immediate revisit of Nolan's 2017 film on Dunkirk. Truth be told, when I read Korda's chapter on "The Little Ships of Dunkirk," I literally turned on Zimmer's score for Nolan's film. Perhaps you will as well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Addison

    This is definitely the backstage-gossip history of Dunkirk. Korda is focused on the individuals who were making decisions and he writes about them as if he knew them all personally. He also writes about his own experiences as a small boy in a very wealthy and powerful family (his uncle DID know Churchill personally). He is a very vivid writer and an excellent storyteller, and it's a cliche to say he makes the story of Dunkirk "come alive," but because he's relying wherever possible on someone's This is definitely the backstage-gossip history of Dunkirk. Korda is focused on the individuals who were making decisions and he writes about them as if he knew them all personally. He also writes about his own experiences as a small boy in a very wealthy and powerful family (his uncle DID know Churchill personally). He is a very vivid writer and an excellent storyteller, and it's a cliche to say he makes the story of Dunkirk "come alive," but because he's relying wherever possible on someone's first-hand account, HIS account has a great deal of immediacy. This is a very engaging read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Judging by most World War 2 histories, the war only heats up once Hitler's rapid takeover of northern and western Europe is accomplished in the spring of 1940, and England is left facing a continent controlled by two execrable men and Mussolini. The fall of the low countries and the fighting retreat of the Allied army happen so quickly that they're dispatched almost as a prologue to the greater drama. Alone takes that prologue as its subject, opening at Munich and moving quickly to the invasion Judging by most World War 2 histories, the war only heats up once Hitler's rapid takeover of northern and western Europe is accomplished in the spring of 1940, and England is left facing a continent controlled by two execrable men and Mussolini. The fall of the low countries and the fighting retreat of the Allied army happen so quickly that they're dispatched almost as a prologue to the greater drama. Alone takes that prologue as its subject, opening at Munich and moving quickly to the invasion of Poland and the state of war which followed. Readers witness stiff desire not to fight again quickly replaced by a mixture of chivalrous indignation and less chivalrous resignation, as England again dispatches her army to Europe to check the German advance, standing alongside the even more resigned French. Here too are chronicled the desperate struggles by the Dutch and Belgian armies, who though colossally outmatched, refuse to yield . The finish, of course, is the great drama of Dunkirk, where the men of the British expeditionary force are surrounded by the German advance, but escape to safety by means of a fleet of civilian ships, a brilliant of example of England expecting every man to do his duty -- even men out of uniform. Korda notes that the triumphant escape of Dunkirk sometimes overshadows the sheer awfulness of getting there and enduring it: some regiments lost as many as two-thirds of their men, and the beach itself was a spectacle from Dante, filled with burning debris, scattered bodies, and the stench of both. Alone is a personal history as well, as a very young Michael Korda was just old enough to realize something bad was happening; the Korda family's involvement in British and later American film industry adds an interesting flair to a more familiar subject. Korda strikes a good balance between narrative and detail, and includes a generous amount of in-text illustrations of personalities and movements. Related: With Wings Like Eagles: The Battle of Britain, Michael Korda. This was my favorite history read of 2011. The Miracle of Dunkirk, Walter Lord

  10. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A smoothly written and easy to read book about the political climate and personalities in the 1930's leading into World War II and ending with the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk prior to the French surrender to the Germans. A good, popular history that presents no great surprises or new insight. I thought the best sections were the ones dealing with individual relationships in the backroom political life; and the all too infrequent stories related to the author's own family's place in the sto A smoothly written and easy to read book about the political climate and personalities in the 1930's leading into World War II and ending with the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk prior to the French surrender to the Germans. A good, popular history that presents no great surprises or new insight. I thought the best sections were the ones dealing with individual relationships in the backroom political life; and the all too infrequent stories related to the author's own family's place in the story. In fact, I really think the author wrote the wrong book. What would have been much more interesting, and which has not been much covered, would have been the story on how three Central European brothers established themselves in a still very class bound country. And not only established themselves, but became powerful in their own right, with connections in all the right places both in England and the United States.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Miki

    4 stars Alone was a great introduction to the personalities that were at play in the 1930's before the onslaught of World War II. I really enjoyed this, although it did take me and extremely long time to finish. I just feel that I couldn't quite get into it and got easily frustrated with it. Not due to the writing, the writing to me felt like I was reading a novel and not a history book. So it was entertaining, but the thing that frustrated me was that the parts where he brought in his family the 4 stars Alone was a great introduction to the personalities that were at play in the 1930's before the onslaught of World War II. I really enjoyed this, although it did take me and extremely long time to finish. I just feel that I couldn't quite get into it and got easily frustrated with it. Not due to the writing, the writing to me felt like I was reading a novel and not a history book. So it was entertaining, but the thing that frustrated me was that the parts where he brought in his family they just didn't bring me in. I got bored frequently when Korda brought up his family and what they were doing at the time. It felt like that information belonged in a different book. Overall the historical part of the book, from the battle plans, to the leaders who were given tasks and took charge and everything in-between was a great and enjoyable read about a time where it looked like the enemy was going to win.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Excellent--a must read for anyone interested in the subject. Great combination of a compelling personal family biography and the amazing true story of Britain standing alone following the fall of Holland and Belgium and the shocking collapse of the Maginot Line in France. As German troops blaze through France, Neville Chamberlain's government teeters, and tens of thousands of British troops retreat to the sea, prelude to mass slaughter and a likely German victory. Yes, another version of the fam Excellent--a must read for anyone interested in the subject. Great combination of a compelling personal family biography and the amazing true story of Britain standing alone following the fall of Holland and Belgium and the shocking collapse of the Maginot Line in France. As German troops blaze through France, Neville Chamberlain's government teeters, and tens of thousands of British troops retreat to the sea, prelude to mass slaughter and a likely German victory. Yes, another version of the familiar tale of Churchill coming to the rescue--but Korda tells it with a generosity of spirit and honesty, with an understanding of Chamberlain's striving for peace and France's horrifying underestimation of the German threat. Compelling and thrilling.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim D

    A brilliant history ofa period of WW II that is both gripping and eminently readable. I learned much about Dunkirk, Churchill, the fall of France, and Operation Pied Piper, the forced evacuation of British children from their homes in the cities. The book is a welcome addition to any WW II bookshelf and brings personal perspectives to the political and social situation in the thirties and forties. An incredible story that fills a niche that few could have told as well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    very good narration, if you feel you like to read something light about the Battle of France. The author shares his family experience, which is that of an upper class movie tycoon, and not that of average British citizen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dell Hilton

    Truly enlightening. Michael Korda has done a great job in writing this history of a pivotal time in the history not only of England and WWII, but also of the world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nestor Rychtyckyj

    2017 was definitely the year to get a deeper understanding of the momentous events that took place in Europe in the early stages of World War II. Two excellent movies (Dunkirk and Darkest Hour) have already shown this on the big screen and this new book by Michael Korda continues this trend. Michael Korda has a unique perspective as he was a 7-year old child living in the UK during this time. The book is strengthened with his personal memories and observations of the time when many thought that E 2017 was definitely the year to get a deeper understanding of the momentous events that took place in Europe in the early stages of World War II. Two excellent movies (Dunkirk and Darkest Hour) have already shown this on the big screen and this new book by Michael Korda continues this trend. Michael Korda has a unique perspective as he was a 7-year old child living in the UK during this time. The book is strengthened with his personal memories and observations of the time when many thought that England would soon be surrendering to Germany. Winston Churchill of course plays the major role here, but Korda skillfully weaves many different story lines into the narrative including the perspectives of Hitler and his generals, the French, Belgians and Dutch as well as the the British. We all know how the story ends but this 462-page book fills in the blanks that "Dunkirk" and "Darkest Hour" could not cover. An interesting and quite disturbing episode that is not discussed much anymore was a program by the British government to remove children from their parents and send them away to rural areas or even to Canada was certainly not the proudest moment for Churchill, but desperate times lead to desperate and indefensible measures. This was demonstrated again and again including the internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. This is an excellent book and highly recommended to anybody looking for more details about the time the England stood alone against Hitler.

  17. 4 out of 5

    stormin

    For the most part, I didn't really understand the point of this book. It's a recounting of the early years of World War II, from just before the war to the fall of France, told from the perspective of the British with a few personal notes by the author about what his father (a designer for major films of the time) was up to. In this regard, it felt very generic. Sort of like a (very) diluted version of The Guns of August. There were two aspects that I found very interesting, but they got very lit For the most part, I didn't really understand the point of this book. It's a recounting of the early years of World War II, from just before the war to the fall of France, told from the perspective of the British with a few personal notes by the author about what his father (a designer for major films of the time) was up to. In this regard, it felt very generic. Sort of like a (very) diluted version of The Guns of August. There were two aspects that I found very interesting, but they got very little play. One was about the Hungarian immigrant community. I lived in Hungary for two years and I speak Hungarian, so I've got a personal interest in that. The author's family was Hungarian--and this was mentioned often--but I really wanted to hear more about their background and about the Hungarian community in general. I can see why that wasn't included--everyone forgets about Hungary--but I would have liked to hear some more. Another one was, for lack of a better word, the socio-psychological explanation of the Dunkirk mythos. Example: King George VI spoke for the whole nation when he wrote to his mother Queen Mary after the fall of France, "Personally, I feel happier now that we have no allies to be polite to and to pamper." Dunkirk is not unrelated to the emotions of those who demanded "Brexit," the British exit from the European Union in 2016. There was a national sense of relief in 1940 at leaving the Continent and withdrawing behind the White Cliffs of Dover. So, yeah: that's really interesting. Tell me more about the particular spirit of the English and how it relates to Dunkirk and Brexit and (ideally) much more beyond that. Well, not so much. There were only a few words on that subject at the very end. A history book has to do something something to be really interesting. There are lots of options: - overturn a popular narrative everyone thought was true - show a famous event or person from a new perspective that changes how we see them / it - show how a non-famous event / person actually had a much greater impact than we thought - use the historical narrative to advance an interesting thesis about science, religion, philosophy, etc. I don't even know which this book was trying to shoot for. It just seemed like a recounting of a familiar story with slightly more detail. If I learned anything from reading it, it was the reminder that all stories are wrong. There's a famous quote from statistics / math: "All models are wrong, but some are useful." Similar idea applies here. No matter what you were taught in school, as far as history goes, it was wrong. If you look closer, you will find that what you were taught was a simplified, often moralistic version of what actually happened. Studying World War 2 in the late 20th century and early 21st, you get the impression that the Germans invaded France, the French collapsed, the British got pushed back to Dunkirk, and then thousands of small boats rescued them. But there was actually a lot of fighting before the French collapsed, and their defeat didn't seem a foregone conclusion at the time. Moreover, most of the British forces were evacuated by destroyers, not small boats, and many tens of thousands of French soldiers were also evacuated. At this point, I don't really know what history is. With science, the "all models are wrong, some are useful" is self-explanatory. If you ignore wind resistance in a physics problem, you're wrong in a technical sense, but you can probably still make predictions that are accurate enough in a practical sense. There aren't really any deep, philosophical quandaries here. You can certainly go off in that direction if you feel so inclined, and read The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, but--while you're waiting for total enlightenment about the nature of truth in a world where every model we have of the universe is wrong--there are no doubts that the abstractions are useful. But it's not at all clear that historical narratives (which are also models / abstractions) are useful in the same kind of way that physics models are. Of course the idea of total historical ignorance sounds bad. The idea of never having heard of World War 2 sounds repugnant, and recent stories that Millennials don't know what the Holocaust is show that we're all pretty secure in our assumptions that we should know something about history. But is that actually a good assumption? The thing is that with physics models there is such a thing as "good enough". That's because most physical systems that we're interested in are relatively simple. If you want to know how much bungie cord to use before jumping off a bridge, you are dealing with a simple (i.e. non-chaotic) system where you don't need to be accurate to the milimeter (because you're going to want a bigger safety cushion than that) and where small changes in your answer will equate to small changes in the actual results. But historical systems are chaotic and fractal. Which is to say: no matter how closely you look at historical events, the level of complexity seems pretty constant. It's very, very hard to understand precisely one person's worldview and predict their actions. It doesn't seem obviously more or less difficult to understand an entire nation's worldview and predict its actions. So, in physics, it's pretty easy to see that ignoring wind resistance is (in most cases) just fine and ignoring gravity is (in most cases) not acceptable. But we have no such useful guideposts in history. If we want to understand the past and/or have some foresight for the future, there's no useful benchmark for how much approximation is acceptable. Which is why we make tremendous strides in applied physics--from air travel to microchip design--year over year and in history we can't even settle the most basic and fundamental questions. Do "great men" influence history? Or are they just the randomly-selected chaff that rises to the top of the turbulent stream of history that is governed by deeper and more abstract forces? Did Karl Marx create something singular and unreproducible with the Communist Manifesto that changed the whole course of the 20th century, or was someone like Karl Marx and something like Marxism basically inevitable given all that had come before? There are imponderable questions in physics, too. Have fun with Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time—and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything, for example. But physics remains useful to us in quantitative, practical ways regardless. I'm not sure if history does. Which seems to make it more like philosophy and literature than like engineering or medicine.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    In all the books that I have read about WWII and even in the college course I took on WWII left out much of the non-American version of the war. Having that background made Alone very cool. It was nice to see the war from the perspective of an English citizen. Although Micahel Korda was very young when he experienced the war, the book being very well researched, he also mentions much of what he and his family were experiencing. His family were in the movie and theater businesses so international In all the books that I have read about WWII and even in the college course I took on WWII left out much of the non-American version of the war. Having that background made Alone very cool. It was nice to see the war from the perspective of an English citizen. Although Micahel Korda was very young when he experienced the war, the book being very well researched, he also mentions much of what he and his family were experiencing. His family were in the movie and theater businesses so international and inter-European travel were frequent occurrences and kept them up to date on most prewar activities. Korda's book starts with the appeasement process. The world had just been at word not twenty years earlier, so even though Germany was breaking the disarmament terms of the Treaty of Versailles, other countries were bending over backwards not to get involved in another war. As appeasement dragged on through the invasions of the Sudetenland and up through Poland, Korda recounts the tepid British response and slow rearmament. The French, counting on the Brits to be their allies, were also woefully underprepared for the onslaught brought by the German invasion of Belgium and France. By the end the first offensive, the Belgians were all but disbanded, the French were falling apart, and the British were being cornered in Dunkirk, as the ports at Calais and Boulogne had already fallen. General Ramsey had the forethought to assemble a seafaring rescue operation even before the BEF thought it would be necessary. Finally, when pushed to the English Channel the BEF retreated via the beach at Dunkirk. Rather than glamorize the retreat, as many are prone to today, Korda tells the gritty tale of soldiers lined up on beaches, dying of thirst, getting shelled consistantly, and being carted off haphazardly by a fleet of Naval and civilian forces. Nothing about the evacuation was glamorous and Alone did a wonderful job of summing up Operation Dynamo and it's lasting effect on the war.

  19. 4 out of 5

    H.W.

    This was one of those books the library had on display. It is newly out and popular, so I was lucky to get a copy to check out. Being a student of history, I've been familiar with the general activities that led up to the British evacuation at Dunkirk, but I've always been starved for details. How did the British manage to get all those men out? How many made it? What about the French? Why wasn't the German army able to stop them? Did the small boats really help all that much? This book is well- This was one of those books the library had on display. It is newly out and popular, so I was lucky to get a copy to check out. Being a student of history, I've been familiar with the general activities that led up to the British evacuation at Dunkirk, but I've always been starved for details. How did the British manage to get all those men out? How many made it? What about the French? Why wasn't the German army able to stop them? Did the small boats really help all that much? This book is well-researched and does a great job of answering those questions. It also, importantly, introduces the politics--domestic and military--that maneuvered Britain into the situation in the first place. Along the way, Michael Korda weaves a compelling narrative with a information-rich but eminently readable style. He manages this by interweaving personal points of view into the story, with his parents and extended family doing their best British best to get on with their business in the midst of warfare. In fact they were almost caught by the battle on the continent (like most well-off families, they were vacationing in France that spring). Another aspect of Korda's success is his storytelling. Every chapter tells a story, and each story hangs on a salient, unexpected fact--for example, the indomitable control Chamberlain had over his party. Whereas we Americans often see him painted as weak, a sop to Hitler, Korda paints the picture of a man so in control he perhaps missed the bigger picture. He also fills in the blanks of what Chamberlain did after he fell from the prime minister's position. more detail here https://wp.me/p4S3cq-qm

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jean Bonilla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In the end, I was disappointed in this book. I loved the personal sketches combined with the history, but the descriptions of the small boats and their role in bringing the troops off of Dunkirk wasn’t as well done as I thought it would be. Korda does a good job of sketching out the fact that the large destroyers and pleasure boats that were pulled off of their regular trips to the Channel islands did most of the work in evacuating troops, but I had expected more, somehow. Maybe the problem is t In the end, I was disappointed in this book. I loved the personal sketches combined with the history, but the descriptions of the small boats and their role in bringing the troops off of Dunkirk wasn’t as well done as I thought it would be. Korda does a good job of sketching out the fact that the large destroyers and pleasure boats that were pulled off of their regular trips to the Channel islands did most of the work in evacuating troops, but I had expected more, somehow. Maybe the problem is that I read it in too many individual chunks, not in one big ‘sit down and read the whole thing’ exercise! A different approach might have made a difference. Having seen the movie ‘Dunkirk’,I had a good picture of the crowds on the beach, of the pall of smoke over the town and the area where they were fighting, and of the tension and danger in which the men found themselves. Korda also gave brilliant sketches of Churchill as the primary politician in charge of bringing the British government together and assuring that the British people saw that defeat turned into victory. Korda drew on sources to describe the PM’s advisers and sprinkled the text with great quotations. (When the King announced a special church service to pray for the troops, Churchill went, but he apparently at one point said, “I could hardly be called a pillar of the church. I am more in the nature of a buttress, for I support it from the outside.”) Korda gave fascinating portrayals of the tension between the French and British, some of it dating back to the Napoleonic era. He described how Pétain, Reynaud, Georges, and other French leaders were aging or completely demoralized. One, Gaston Billotte, was so overwhelmed, he cried when he was given responsibility for the entire French 1st Army Group. Others, like Gamelin, hunkered down in isolation instead of taking charge. Some of them couldn’t shake the loss of the previous war. On the other hand, Frenchmen like Henry de la Falaise, assigned as liaison to the 12th Lancers, “the Prince of Wales Own,” a unit that dated back to the Jacobite rebellion in 1697, heroically stood with the last troops defending the beach that allowed the Brits and many French to escape to England. De la Falaise married Gloria Swanson at one point, which turned him into a worldwide celebrity. Korda captured the divisions in the British Cabinet well. Chamberlain, nicknamed “Old Umbrella” for his habit of always carrying one, abandoned the lure of appeasement, and staunchly supported the war. Korda talked about Duff Cooper, David Lloyd George, and other familiar names. Interesting that Churchill’s big support seemed to have come from the Labour Party. I didn’t realize that, before he became PM in 1940 - not the first choice for a lot of the party faithful - Churchill had held every other significant government position except PM an Foreign Minister. He had been a member of both the Tory and Liberal parties. I loved as well the links to Hungary and the descriptions of the First World War. Seeing all those Hungarian names brought back so many memories! Dito and I talked afterwards about his school bus drivers - who all seemed to be named Csaba, Laszlo, Csaba Laszlo, or Laszlo Csaba!! Not to mention Attila. Such common Hungarian names. Finally, l enjoyed the peek into the theatre world. In 1945, Alex Korda apparently remade “The Thief of Baghdad.” I love Douglas Fairbanks version of 1924. Alex was a movie mogul and worked for MI-6 building British morale during the war. The author’s father, Vincent, did the “Baghdad” sets and cinematography and won an Academy Award for his work. Alex was married to Merle Oberon. Their brother, Zoltan or “Zoli” as he was called, also was a famed film director. The author’s mother and Zoli’s wife Joan were respected stage actresses in the London theatre. All those facets of how British stage and theatre are woven together are familiar to me, so that part of the book interested me, too. All the reasons above merited four stars. I just couldn’t give it the fifth one because it let me down on the little boats! Korda partially redeemed himself on the last page. “The transformation of a calamitous defeat into a legendary victory was one of the singular British triumphs of the war, one that would sustain the people through the next four years, during which they were overshadowed by their two more powerful allies, the Soviet Union and the United States, and for over 70 years there after, and doubtless will continue to do so whenever they look across the Channel toward the Continent, for Britain never suffered invasion, occupation, or the marching away of millions of men into captivity. Despite the horrors of five more years of war, Britain managed to stand alone until June 1941, when Hitler attacked the Soviet union, and December 1941, when Japan attacked the United States - surely Churchill’s greatest achievement. “In that sense Dunkirk was, and remains, perhaps the greatest British victory of World War II, that rarest of historical events, a military defeat with a happy ending.”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anne Morgan

    Michael Korda's new book Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory examines the the early days of World War II. Alone covers a lot of events, mostly from the British point of view but also French and German: Chamberlain's failed appeasement policy, France and England reluctantly being drawn back into war, Churchill becoming Prime Minister, Germany rewriting the use of tanks in warfare, conflicting personalities and agendas among allied generals. All leading up to the evacuation Michael Korda's new book Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory examines the the early days of World War II. Alone covers a lot of events, mostly from the British point of view but also French and German: Chamberlain's failed appeasement policy, France and England reluctantly being drawn back into war, Churchill becoming Prime Minister, Germany rewriting the use of tanks in warfare, conflicting personalities and agendas among allied generals. All leading up to the evacuation of over 300,000 English and French troops from the beach of Dunkirk, late May 1940. Scattered throughout the researched history are personal stories and a bit of family history as Korda reflects on his own memories as a 6 year old in a wealthy family of actors and movie makers. Based on the book blurb for Alone, I had high hopes this would be a World War II history along the lines of Lynne Olson's Last Hope Island- meticulously researched, written with vivid detail and an eye for making individuals and their experiences leap off the page and into your mind. Alone is certainly well researched. I now have a much better understanding of the creation and purpose of the famed French Maginot Line after reading the early part of Alone. The research into the French and British military leaders, their different approaches, their conflicts among themselves, and the difficulties they had in communicating with each other (not only with radios, and phones, but personal dislikes that often meant one man in charge wasn't on speaking terms with another) was well done and gave you a sense of what the chaos on the ground must have been like. How they accomplished any successes with so many personal clashes going on is (as is the case in most military histories I've read recently) amazing. The Korda family moments interspersed within Alone were occasionally interesting, but generally felt like they belonged in a separate book. Instead of showing what life on the home front was normally like, more often than not they showed how money could soften difficulties. Korda frequently mentions how his uncle Alex worked with Churchill and the government to make his (then current) movies into subtle propaganda designed to gain the sympathy and support of the United States. The Thief of Baghdad and That Hamilton Woman were eventually made in the US to seem like 'regular' big budget Hollywood movies instead of British propaganda. But the reader never gets an idea of what that meant, or if it worked- which would have made me much more interested in it. The actual telling of the evacuation from Dunkirk only takes place in the last 100 or so pages of Alone and often seemed scattered and disorienting. I'm sure that this is what the people on the ground experienced at the time, but I was hoping for a more coherent and understandable account to this interesting and unique moment in history. Overall I was disappointed in Alone. Instead of being a vivid account of a slice of history it was often repetitive, and choppily written. Personal family stories didn't blend in to give us a better feeling for the time but mostly jarred the reader from the military narrative. Military leaders and personalities blended together, making it hard to remember who was who (often even what side they were on) and even Winston Churchill didn't spring to life here. The evacuation story itself almost seemed like an afterthought, with a few good, clear moments. People who have seen Chris Nolan's 2017 movie Dunkirk will recognize the inspiration for the "sea" story of The Moonstone, and find the original story ( in my opinion) even more interesting and gripping- one of the few moments I could say that about Alone. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review For my full review, go to: https://bookwyrmreader.blogspot.com/2...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susie Craig

    Michael Korda tackles this moment in history through weaving memories from his 6 year old life into the story of the evacuation at Dunkirk. Korda's father, Vincent and his uncle, Alex were strong supporters of Churchill and moved fluidly between Britain and Europe prior to Second World War. Having survived the Austro-Hungarian breakup after the First World War they became increasingly more cynical with the misinformation that was portrayed by media and government in Britain and France. Korda doe Michael Korda tackles this moment in history through weaving memories from his 6 year old life into the story of the evacuation at Dunkirk. Korda's father, Vincent and his uncle, Alex were strong supporters of Churchill and moved fluidly between Britain and Europe prior to Second World War. Having survived the Austro-Hungarian breakup after the First World War they became increasingly more cynical with the misinformation that was portrayed by media and government in Britain and France. Korda does not disparage the appeasers in the British Government who were reluctant to commit their country to war and identifies Churchill's weaknesses, particularly that of believing the French Government and military were capable of withstanding the German onslaught. To my mind there are three key factors that made this calamitous situation such a success. The Royal Navy comes out as the real hero of the moment, with the Admiralty having farsightedly started, almost as soon as Germany had attacked France and the Low Countries, to prepare for a future evacuation from France's coastline. Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, appointed by Churchill to command the Dover operations, immediately and quietly started the planning on what was code-named Operation Dynamo. Ramsay, thoroughly and efficiently led a team that prepared the plan for an evacuation of the BEF from the beaches and port of Dunkirk armed with a thorough census of the civilian maritime world of small vessels and their owners, their skill and capabilities, as well as the destroyers under his command. Korda gives credit where it is due to the civilians who staffed many of these large and small boats and to the Royal Navy for its role in the transport of the majority of the troops from Dunkirk. With so many people arriving at the port chaos could easily have occurred and Ramsay wisely appoint Captain W. G. Tennant as senior naval officer Dunkirk to keep order during the evacuation. Over a period of a few days 338,226 personnel of whom 139,921 were French were transported to England, many more than had been thought possible. It is also clear that without the determination and bravery of the BEF in holding the perimeter around Dunkirk and delaying the approach of the German army many personnel would not have been saved. Their military training, dedication and loyalty to their regiment kept them fighting even when they ran out of rations and ammunition. France’s political and military leaders were unprepared for the assault by the Germans and Korda criticises them for their defeatist attitudes which is attributed to their inability to defend their people and their country. Both they and the political appeasers in Churchill’s parliament were still convinced that a peace deal could be negotiated with Hitler even as the evacuation was occurring. Even for a non-military enthusiast I enjoyed reading about this much mytholigized episode that occurred early in Britain’s war against Germany. It is an easy read and Korda raises the issue Churchill had with an antagonistic Parliament, his self-doubts and the propensity of the media to turn defeats into victory. Churchill still did not have the full support of the government after Dunkirk and used words as his weapons of persuasion and defiance to show that the British people would fight, even if alone against “the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history.” In June 1940 Churchill warned his countrymen “not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    For those who saw the recent movie "Dunkirk" and thought that it was exciting, I recommend that you read " Alone" by Michael Korda. I saw that movie and was appalled at the simplified, dumbed-down portrayal of what occurred there. There was very little sense of the disaster that had befallen the allied armies and the horrifying conditions of the beaches of Dunkirk. The movie showed some little straffing and bombing , not the almost constant German attacks , and gave no information as to what had For those who saw the recent movie "Dunkirk" and thought that it was exciting, I recommend that you read " Alone" by Michael Korda. I saw that movie and was appalled at the simplified, dumbed-down portrayal of what occurred there. There was very little sense of the disaster that had befallen the allied armies and the horrifying conditions of the beaches of Dunkirk. The movie showed some little straffing and bombing , not the almost constant German attacks , and gave no information as to what had happened to put the Brisish forces in such a dire situation. The movie was, as most movies are these days, a mosh-mash of SFX, sketchy history, juvenile writing and hammy acting. This book is a necessary antidote to that. "Alone" by Michael Korda, is a well-written, easily accessible history that covers the events leading to the beginning of the war, the speed and devasting power of the German army on the ground and in the air and the tenacious , though doomed, efforts of the allies to stop their advance. The book is filled with personal stories of both General's and common and common soldiers, including the famously idiosyncratic British trait of coolness under pressure ( a soldier reading a Gertrude Stein novel in a ditch while being shelled is one I recall). Churchill, often idolized , is in the book is shown as a master politician, cheerleader, negotiator and fiddler with the General Staff's war plans ( a trait he shared with Hitler, by the way, though not to Hitler's extent.) Churchill maneuvers politically in Paliament to keep Britian' s morale up even as the army retreats. He is shown as every bit the tenacious bull dog, a trait shared with his fighting men. Truly a man who was where he had to be , when he had to be. But this is not a political book. Nor is it a military history. It is a popular history written to be enjoyed by everyone with an interest in what, why and how Dunkirk came about and why it was so important to the long war ahead. There are plenty of picutures and maps for the reader. Mr. Korda also inserts brief , but interesting vignettes of his family life . He is a seven year old son of a family of Hungarian background all of who were involved in the movie industry . He uncle, Alexander, was a director who created films in Britain and the US , not to mention France and Germany before the war. An interesting aside was that the Korda family gave financial assaisstance to Churchill when during his "out" years by finding movie script jobs for him, to be rewarded while he was PM by his, or the British film board, financing some Hollywood movies / pro- British, of course. Korda's production company was also used by British secret agents as a front from which they worked to speed US involve the into the war. And that is just a small bit of what you may learn in "Alone." So get the book "Alone" , sit down , read it and see how enjoyable history can be in the hands of a very good writer with a great story to tell. .

  24. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    As many books as I’ve read on WWII, I know little about the war before the United States became involved except for the connection between Churchill and Roosevelt and our supplying as many weapons and supplies as we possibly could under the restrictions placed on the government by the isolationists in both political parties. This book goes a long way in correcting that lack of knowledge. It’s an excellent history of Hitler’s movements, plans and exceedingly good luck at the beginning of the war a As many books as I’ve read on WWII, I know little about the war before the United States became involved except for the connection between Churchill and Roosevelt and our supplying as many weapons and supplies as we possibly could under the restrictions placed on the government by the isolationists in both political parties. This book goes a long way in correcting that lack of knowledge. It’s an excellent history of Hitler’s movements, plans and exceedingly good luck at the beginning of the war and the pitiful defense Poland, Belgium and the French were able to put up. Only the Dutch made them pay for every acre of ground secured. Dunkirk was an absolute miracle well thought out, planned and prepared for. Hundreds and hundreds of small civilian boats rushing to the rescue of the British and French forces as Hitler’s army squeezed them to almost destruction. 400,000 troops were saved, a 160,000 of them French. And most importantly, it convinced Churchill England could win alone if necessary. The two mistakes Hitler made that lost him a victory at Dunkirk were real failures in judgement and refusal to listen to his military, something he would do again and again throughout the war. First, the Panzer tank divisions were a new way of warfare and he (nor his staff) was convinced of the efficacy. They wanted them to move slowly so the infantry could keep up while the Panzer commanders found by moving quickly it paralyzed the enemy who had nothing in the way of weaponry to stop them. Allied troops fled away from their advance leaving their weapons behind joining the throngs of refugees filling the highways attempting to escape their advance. Finally Hitler put his foot down ordering them to stop for several days for “servicing” just like the cavalry had to rest their horses even though the tank commanders had told him the German troops serviced them every night before going to bed. This several day delay allowed the French and British to retreat to Dunkirk and begin there escape. The second mistake was in deciding to first defeat the French before turning his attention to England. Once again this provided the British time to execute and escape plan. Finally what convinced Churchill of British success is summed up in the following sentence: “So long as the fight was at sea or in the air, Britain still had a chance to survive, and no German invasion was likely to succeed without German command of the sea and air over the channel.” His prediction proved correct though the entrance by the United States certainly helped. But reading this book, I am convinced had we never entered the war the British would have defeated Germany simply by the act of will. A good lesson for us all against our enemies.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bob Mobley

    Michael Korda’s excellent look at the history of World War II, leading up to the Dunkirk evacuation, is well worth reading. Korda is a gifted author, as well as the former Editor-in-Chief of Simon, Schuster. He understands the power of language, and how to write in a style that is engaging, drawing you into the story he is telling, holding your interest and making it an exciting journey. In his story of Dunkirk, Alone, Korda combines the chronicles of the outbreak of the Second World War, and th Michael Korda’s excellent look at the history of World War II, leading up to the Dunkirk evacuation, is well worth reading. Korda is a gifted author, as well as the former Editor-in-Chief of Simon, Schuster. He understands the power of language, and how to write in a style that is engaging, drawing you into the story he is telling, holding your interest and making it an exciting journey. In his story of Dunkirk, Alone, Korda combines the chronicles of the outbreak of the Second World War, and the great events leading to Dunkirk, with a fascinating look inside his own rich family stories. Alone is indeed a very moving book, bringing to life world leaders and generals, and the ordinary citizens who fought on both sides of the war. Korda relates what happened and why it occurred in a manner that builds to an amazing outcome, which supports his point that Dunkirk may well have been the pivotal turning point in World War II. It was Dunkirk that showed the Germans and the rest of the world that the British were not going to roll over like the French, and surrender, but instead, would fight to the bitter end. One of the truly amazing outcomes that stands out in Korda’s book, is the manner in which Dunkirk was transformed in one of the greatest defeats the British army has ever endured to becoming an almost legendary victory. The “Spirit of Dunkirk” that was to become engrained in the British consciousness, was set in motion and made possible by Churchill’s mastery of the English language, and the fact that as Prime Minister, he took words to war, and created within the British people, a powerful willingness to sustain themselves and resist the Nazis. Alone is a book that is well worth reading for its lessons in leadership and character. It is interesting to think of Korda’s book in terms of two other events that have taken place recently that have had an enormous influence on viewers. The first is the movie, Dunkirk, and the second is the movie, Darkest Hour. When combined as a retrospective trilogy on this dramatic period of history, great truths and lessons emerge. One of them is clearly that there is no substitute for courageous leadership built on clear values and a strong belief in the Faith that can come from a higher power.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mshelton50

    An extremely good book from the former editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, Michael Korda. As a seven-year-old boy living in England, Korda lived through the outbreak of war in September 1939, the "Phoney War" that followed in the West, and the German blitzkrieg of May 1940. In Alone, he tells the story of the collapse of the Chamberlain government, and how Winston Churchill improbably succeeded to the post of Prime Minister; how the Belgian, British and 1st French armies were cut off by the Ger An extremely good book from the former editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, Michael Korda. As a seven-year-old boy living in England, Korda lived through the outbreak of war in September 1939, the "Phoney War" that followed in the West, and the German blitzkrieg of May 1940. In Alone, he tells the story of the collapse of the Chamberlain government, and how Winston Churchill improbably succeeded to the post of Prime Minister; how the Belgian, British and 1st French armies were cut off by the German breakthrough in the Ardennes; and how those armies managed to fight a desperate rear-guard action that enabled them to reach Dunkirk and the hope of evacuation. The "miracle" of Dunkirk is ably told here. I thought I knew a great deal of this story, but Korda managed to hit me with information I didn't know, for example (1) the fact that Churchill and the British government offered to evacuate the former Kaiser Wilhelm II from his place of exile in Holland (which the Kaiser declined), and (2) of the 140,000 French soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk, only 3,000 agreed to stay in Britain and fight with General de Gaulle's Free French. The remainder returned to France, only to become German prisoners of war. Some critics of the book found the story of the Korda family--director Alex and his wife Merle Oberon; Alex's brother the artist and art director Vincent (Michael's father), et al.--distracting, whereas I found it most interesting, especially given the Hungarian Kordas' experience of the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the end of WWI. There are few little mistakes that should have been caught by editors, e.g., the book places Mers el-Kebir in Morocco instead of Algeria (p. 449), and refers to the annual "Trooping the Colour" ceremony as the "Trooping of the Color," but these in no way detract from the book. It's a great read, and I am giving it as a Christmas gift this year.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ksorb

    I'm a self-admitted devotee of WWII non-fiction, and this surpassed my expectations. My favorite sub-genre is "bottom-up history" - stories of historical events see through the eyes of individuals at street level who lived through them, at least long enough to have left a diary, letter, or a memoir. Having spent the first half of 2020 reading the three-volume mega-tome "The Last Lion", to realize Alone was another top-shelf retelling and analysis of the events leading up to Dunkirk was a bit of I'm a self-admitted devotee of WWII non-fiction, and this surpassed my expectations. My favorite sub-genre is "bottom-up history" - stories of historical events see through the eyes of individuals at street level who lived through them, at least long enough to have left a diary, letter, or a memoir. Having spent the first half of 2020 reading the three-volume mega-tome "The Last Lion", to realize Alone was another top-shelf retelling and analysis of the events leading up to Dunkirk was a bit of a disappointment, but that didn't last long! Alone is told not only from a great deal of historical facts and research, but always framed by author Michael Korda's own memories of living through the events, told from the perspective of a six-year-old boy in the home of highly placed parents who, as famous people in show business, hobnobbed with the high and mighty in Britain's political arena. In America, our historical knowledge and focus is mostly told from the bombing of Pearl Harbor forward, to the end of the war, with a brief but romanticized retelling of the incredible rescue of over 300,000 British and French fighters cornered and stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. As we currently remember and honor those world-changing historical events at 75th-anniversary commemorations, if you only want to read one engaging but over-arching book for this period, choosing this one would be a terrific choice. Who knows but that it might whet your appetite for more - both top-down and bottom-up views! I chose to listen to this book read to me on Audible, and the narrator, John Lee, was articulate, his voice easy on the ear, perfectly paced, and the sound engineering criticism-proof.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Grommit

    Another Dunkirk book, to accompany the Summer 2017 movie. All three recent titles were well done. This book includes analysis of Chamberlain's success at temporarily appeasing Hitler and the very positive reaction among the Parliament and citizens. Excellent analysis follows of the Chamberlain-Churchill parliamentary maneuvering in response to Hitler's invasions of Finland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Along the way we benefit from a concise assessment of French military mindset: they did not wan Another Dunkirk book, to accompany the Summer 2017 movie. All three recent titles were well done. This book includes analysis of Chamberlain's success at temporarily appeasing Hitler and the very positive reaction among the Parliament and citizens. Excellent analysis follows of the Chamberlain-Churchill parliamentary maneuvering in response to Hitler's invasions of Finland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Along the way we benefit from a concise assessment of French military mindset: they did not want war, did not want to invade anyone. This mindset explained the willingness to seek Mussolini's aid in avoiding outright war (oops...wrong guy!) and the Maginot Line (hey...let's build a wall and keep out the bad guys...hmmm...where have I heard that one.) And apparently the French military reputation was earned in the past, but no longer valid. In fact, the author reports many incidents ridiculing the French willingness to cooperate and fight. Another highlight: the clear explanation of how the German invasion plan (through the "impassable" Ardennes forest), its planing, revisions, and brilliant execution. This analysis is accompanied by the several explanations for the temporary halt. Of course, we finally get to the actual Dunkirk scenarios: the bitterly defended perimeter accompanied by the armada of little boats (most expertly handled as a collaboration with the British Navy. Some observations might be questioned by other authors, but Korda provides sources.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jim Zubricky

    After this summer's blockbuster film, "Dunkirk", I wanted to read whatever I can get my hands on to know more about the story. One of the books that Amazon pointed me to was this book. I was excited because of the picture of Churchill on the cover, but I thought for sure, this would be a great book. When I started reading the review on Amazon - this this history would be interspersed with family stories - I thought, well... this could be... interesting. And it was. The first half of the book fle After this summer's blockbuster film, "Dunkirk", I wanted to read whatever I can get my hands on to know more about the story. One of the books that Amazon pointed me to was this book. I was excited because of the picture of Churchill on the cover, but I thought for sure, this would be a great book. When I started reading the review on Amazon - this this history would be interspersed with family stories - I thought, well... this could be... interesting. And it was. The first half of the book flew by. If you're interested in the British version of how World War II was declared, the Phoney War, the Norway campaign, and how Churchill became PM -- Read this book! You will not be disappointed. If the book ended here, I would give it 5 stars - easily. Once the main story of the book began - the Fall of France and the BEF evacuation at Dunkirk - the text took on a really sluggish, haltingly pace that does not match the first half of the book. In fact, you might be able to argue that there are two separate works trying to be stitched together. The second half was okay. Honestly, I found Walter Lord's work on Dunkirk was a bit more informative. But, like I said, the first part of the book was great, and I really enjoyed that.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike Stewart

    Part memoir (the author was a small boy in England in 1939 -40) and part history, Korda's book covers WWII England from August 1939 until Dunkirk. Korda writes with great clarity and offers sound insights. I've read three of his other book - his excellent biographies of T.E. Lawrence and Robert E. Lee and his history of the Battle of Britain - and they have all been very worthwhile. His account of Dunkirk, while not ignoring the mythic small boat aspects, give great credit to the Royal Navy and Part memoir (the author was a small boy in England in 1939 -40) and part history, Korda's book covers WWII England from August 1939 until Dunkirk. Korda writes with great clarity and offers sound insights. I've read three of his other book - his excellent biographies of T.E. Lawrence and Robert E. Lee and his history of the Battle of Britain - and they have all been very worthwhile. His account of Dunkirk, while not ignoring the mythic small boat aspects, give great credit to the Royal Navy and the superb planning and foresight of Admiral Ramsey and does not shy away from the less heroic aspects of the story, e.g. the swamping of small boats by panicked soldiers. Korda comes from a fascinating family of movies producers, actresses, and art directors, etc. and his memories of his family are as compelling as his larger theme. He ends his narrative rather abruptly as far as his family is concerned; I would really have liked to have learned what happened to him and all his relatives after 1940.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.