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A gripping new history of the British appeasement of the Third Reich on the eve of World War II On a wet afternoon in September 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stepped off a plane and prepared to address the crowd of journalists, Cabinet Ministers and well-wishers waiting at Heston airfield. Chamberlain had just returned from Munich, where he had averted the gr A gripping new history of the British appeasement of the Third Reich on the eve of World War II On a wet afternoon in September 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stepped off a plane and prepared to address the crowd of journalists, Cabinet Ministers and well-wishers waiting at Heston airfield. Chamberlain had just returned from Munich, where he had averted the greatest crisis of the century. Under his leadership, Britain and France had conceded the German-speaking fringe of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, after which the Führer was persuaded to sign a joint declaration symbolizing "the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again." The cost had been high, but Chamberlain's eleventh-hour gamble had, the Prime Minister boasted, secured "peace for our time." Less than a year later, Germany invaded Poland and the deadliest conflict in human history began.  Appeasement is a groundbreaking history of the disastrous years of indecision, failed diplomacy and parliamentary infighting that enabled Hitler's domination of Europe. Drawing on deep archival research and sources not previously seen by historians, Tim Bouverie has created an unforgettable portrait of the ministers, dukes and debutantes who, through their actions and inaction, shaped their country's policy and determined the fate of Europe. Beginning with the advent of Hitler in 1933, we embark on a fascinating journey from the early days of the Third Reich to the beaches of Dunkirk. Bouverie takes us inside the 10 Downing Street of Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin and into the backrooms of Parliament--where an unusual coalition of Conservative rebels, including the indomitable Winston Churchill, and opposition MPs were among the few to realize that the only real choice was between "war now or war later." And as German troops enter the demilitarized Rhineland, march into Austria and threaten to invade Czechoslovakia, he takes us into the drawing rooms and dinner clubs of fading imperial Britain, where Hitler enjoyed surprising support among the ruling class and even members of the Royal Family. Both sweeping and intimate, Appeasement is not only an eye-opening history but a timeless lesson on the challenges of standing against authoritarianism--and the calamity that results from failing.


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A gripping new history of the British appeasement of the Third Reich on the eve of World War II On a wet afternoon in September 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stepped off a plane and prepared to address the crowd of journalists, Cabinet Ministers and well-wishers waiting at Heston airfield. Chamberlain had just returned from Munich, where he had averted the gr A gripping new history of the British appeasement of the Third Reich on the eve of World War II On a wet afternoon in September 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stepped off a plane and prepared to address the crowd of journalists, Cabinet Ministers and well-wishers waiting at Heston airfield. Chamberlain had just returned from Munich, where he had averted the greatest crisis of the century. Under his leadership, Britain and France had conceded the German-speaking fringe of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, after which the Führer was persuaded to sign a joint declaration symbolizing "the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again." The cost had been high, but Chamberlain's eleventh-hour gamble had, the Prime Minister boasted, secured "peace for our time." Less than a year later, Germany invaded Poland and the deadliest conflict in human history began.  Appeasement is a groundbreaking history of the disastrous years of indecision, failed diplomacy and parliamentary infighting that enabled Hitler's domination of Europe. Drawing on deep archival research and sources not previously seen by historians, Tim Bouverie has created an unforgettable portrait of the ministers, dukes and debutantes who, through their actions and inaction, shaped their country's policy and determined the fate of Europe. Beginning with the advent of Hitler in 1933, we embark on a fascinating journey from the early days of the Third Reich to the beaches of Dunkirk. Bouverie takes us inside the 10 Downing Street of Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin and into the backrooms of Parliament--where an unusual coalition of Conservative rebels, including the indomitable Winston Churchill, and opposition MPs were among the few to realize that the only real choice was between "war now or war later." And as German troops enter the demilitarized Rhineland, march into Austria and threaten to invade Czechoslovakia, he takes us into the drawing rooms and dinner clubs of fading imperial Britain, where Hitler enjoyed surprising support among the ruling class and even members of the Royal Family. Both sweeping and intimate, Appeasement is not only an eye-opening history but a timeless lesson on the challenges of standing against authoritarianism--and the calamity that results from failing.

30 review for Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Tim Bouverie has a background in journalism and, although this is his first book, I hope very much that it is not his last. In this title, Bouverie takes us from 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor, through to the Phoney War. He also uses many contemporary sources, to make the story feel more immediate, as well as covering not only the main players in events, but those who witnessed events – ambassadors, politicians, family members, translators and others, who all help to fill in the picture of Tim Bouverie has a background in journalism and, although this is his first book, I hope very much that it is not his last. In this title, Bouverie takes us from 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor, through to the Phoney War. He also uses many contemporary sources, to make the story feel more immediate, as well as covering not only the main players in events, but those who witnessed events – ambassadors, politicians, family members, translators and others, who all help to fill in the picture of what happened, through letters and diaries. Of course, we all know about Munich, the ‘Peace for our Time,’ of Leo Amery’s stirring speech, the fall of Chamberlain, and of how England, and France, were unwilling to enter into a war. What this book does is to show just how unpopular war was, with the First World War still very much in the memory of many of those who feature in this book – as well as the public. In fact, Bouverie shows that the desire to avoid a second world war was very understandable. This story is told very much from a British perspective and through the turbulent years of British politics in this period. It is fascinating to read of how many apologists there were for the rise of Hitler – from Nancy Astor and the Cliveden set, through Diana and Unity Mitford, members of the aristocracy and, to Hitler’s dismay, even a possible monarch (not much use to the Fuhrer after abdication), as well as many in the press, who did their best to try, not only to avoid war, but to suggest that greater ties should be made between England and Germany. There were, of course, those who were curious to meet this popular new leader. Bob Boothby, invited to meet Hitler while giving some lectures in Germany, was ushered into the great man’s presence, to be greeted with clicked heels, a thrown out arm and the shout of, “Hitler!” Not missing a beat, Boothby clicked his own heels and returned the salute, barking out, “Boothby!” It is doubtful whether the Fuhrer was amused. Other politicians, such as Eden, were strongly against war. During WWI, all of the male members of Eden’s family were either killed, captured, or injured. Perhaps too eager to be positive, Eden was charmed by Hitler and thought him sincere – at least at first. However, in behaviour reminiscent of other, more current, political leaders, Hitler was soon leading Germany to flounce out of the League of Nations, ranting, as more than one of those mentioned in this pages suggest, ‘like a madman,’ (indeed Leo Amery thought him insane, after reading ‘Mein Kampf’), refusing to entertain visiting Britain, in case of demonstrations, and pushing boundaries, in the belief that France and Britain would not go to war despite his territorial claims and constant breaking of promises which, certainly, were of no value whatsoever. In this age of political extremes, perhaps fascism seemed preferable to the rise of communism, but many of those – notably Churchill – warned of the danger from the sidelines. However, the attempts by the British to avoid war, often seem laughable. At one point, the Foreign Office even sent Hitler a questionnaire, asking which treaties he would respect. I imagine, they are still waiting for answer… Although it is, of course, interesting to read of the fall of Chamberlain, I found the middle years – and less well documented – the most fascinating. It seemed that the Allies were ready to agree to any solution to avoid war. Czechoslovakia was a, ‘long way away,’ and it was hard not to sympathise with attempts to try to keep the peace, even if it was obvious that war was coming. This is an extremely readable account of how war broke out, despite many efforts to contain a threat which could not, ultimately, be restrained.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    British historian Basil Liddell Hart stated it concisely......" On each successive international issue the Government has had persuasive argument for dishonoring our obligations - but the fact remains that each surrender has led to a worse one, and to a worsening of our situation as well as that of civilization". This is basically the crux of the appeasement policy of PM Neville Chamberlain which will forever taint Chamberlain's reputation. Chamberlain's hope was that the League of Nations would British historian Basil Liddell Hart stated it concisely......" On each successive international issue the Government has had persuasive argument for dishonoring our obligations - but the fact remains that each surrender has led to a worse one, and to a worsening of our situation as well as that of civilization". This is basically the crux of the appeasement policy of PM Neville Chamberlain which will forever taint Chamberlain's reputation. Chamberlain's hope was that the League of Nations would step in when Hitler occupied the Rhineland but the League had been effectively destroyed when it refused to assist Abyssinia (Ethiopia) when Italy conquered that small, helpless country. This left Britain and France to deal with Hitler themselves. Czechoslovakia was next and as German troops gathered on the Czech border, Hitler invited Chamberlain to meet with him in Munich to discuss the situation (The Czechs were not invited). What transpired from the meeting, the Munich Agreement guaranteed the Germany had no further "demands" for additional conquests and Chamberlain returned to London saying that it was "peace for our time". But Hitler told his ambassador to Britain "Oh, don't take it all so seriously......That piece of paper is of no significance whatsoever." Three days later, Germany invaded the rump of Czechoslovakia. And the rest is history. The author covers the months when Britain and France wavered as Hitler planned to take over all of Europe by turning next on Poland, a country which was guaranteed the protection of Britain and France by the Munich Agreement. The reader is provided an inside look at the machinations of the British government that severed party liaisons and separated old friends into the the appeasement and anti-appeasement camps. And Winston Churchill waited in the wings. I cannot think of a better book that explains and dissects the actions of Chamberlain and the Government and the quote from the Czech President pretty much sums up the world changing situation. "If you have sacrificed my nation to preserve the peace of the world, I will be the first to applaud you.. But if not, gentlemen, God help your souls". Very highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    Tim Bouverie has written a new history of Appeasement - the particular case of English relations with Germany from Hitler’s rise to power until the outbreak of WW2. When I saw this book, my first reaction was to wonder why a new history was needed. Perhaps because the word in its reference to dealings with dictators has come to expand in scope and thus lose much of its meaning. OK, I get that. Mr. Bouverie helps to clarify the original situation and in doing so provides a detailed look at the di Tim Bouverie has written a new history of Appeasement - the particular case of English relations with Germany from Hitler’s rise to power until the outbreak of WW2. When I saw this book, my first reaction was to wonder why a new history was needed. Perhaps because the word in its reference to dealings with dictators has come to expand in scope and thus lose much of its meaning. OK, I get that. Mr. Bouverie helps to clarify the original situation and in doing so provides a detailed look at the diplomacy in Europe from 1933-1941. The timeline fits nicely into some recent movies about Dunkirk and Churchill. So, does that mean that Mr. Bouverie is presenting a revisionist history of Appeasement and Chamberlain? Hardly. Appeasement remains the strategy that we love to hate and the ultimate in foreign policy disasters to which democracies are prone. But Mr. Bouverie has provided a very rich story that does not appear to lack in necessary detail. He is also balanced and reasonable in that he spreads the blame around and spares nobody from the run-up to WW2. This is not an oversimplified story but the overall meaning is quite clear and the reality of Appeasement has only grown clearer over the past 70 years. The book is well written and fun to read. (I never thought I would say that about a study of interwar diplomatic history.). As to how Appeasement arguments/criticisms apply to other situations and other dictators, there is likely room for more books to explore what is what. As a starting point for further work, this history is an exceptional start.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    In 1961 the controversial British historian, A.J.P. Taylor published THE ORIGINS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR arguing that the war was caused by the appeasement policies pursued by England and France toward Nazi Germany. He further purported that Adolf Hitler was more of a traditional European statesman who easily could have been stopped in March 1936 at the Rhineland bridges had England and France had the will to do so. This book created a firestorm in academic circles and over the years numerous hi In 1961 the controversial British historian, A.J.P. Taylor published THE ORIGINS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR arguing that the war was caused by the appeasement policies pursued by England and France toward Nazi Germany. He further purported that Adolf Hitler was more of a traditional European statesman who easily could have been stopped in March 1936 at the Rhineland bridges had England and France had the will to do so. This book created a firestorm in academic circles and over the years numerous historians have challenged Taylor’s conclusions. Among the first was J.W. Wheeler-Bennett’s MUNICH: PROLOGUE TO TRAGEDY followed later by Telford Taylor’s MUNICH: THE PRICE OF PEACE, Lynne Olson’s TROUBLESOME YOUNG MEN: THE REBELS WHO HELPED SAVE ENGLAND, David Faber’s MUNICH THE 1938 APPEASEMENT CRISIS, and last year a fictional account was written by Robert Harris. These books among many others lay out the counter argument to Taylor that even though Anglo-Franco appeasement was responsible for the war, Hitler would have stopped at nothing to achieve at a minimum domination of Europe. The latest entry into this debate is Tim Bouverie’s APPEASEMENT: CHAMBERLAIN, HITLER, CHURCHILL, AND THE ROAD TO WAR. Bouverie, a former British journalist offers a fresh approach in analyzing London’s foreign policy throughout the 1930s leading to the Second World War. The author excoriates British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his apologists who argue that he had little choice because of England’s lack of military preparation and fear of inflicting further damage to an already depressed economy. Bouverie concludes that Chamberlain had decided even before he became Prime Minister that an accommodation with Hitler needed to be made in order to prevent revisiting the carnage of World War I. With England’s position growing untenable in the Pacific due Japanese expansionism a rapprochement with Germany was a necessity. Chamberlain would proceed to try to make deals with Benito Mussolini to pressure the Fuhrer, but in reality as his own writings and correspondence reflect he was bent on giving in to Hitler as shown in his reaction to the Anschluss with Austria, the drum beat by Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia for autonomy, the dismemberment of the only democracy in central Europe at the Munich Conference and thereafter, and finally over Danzig. It was clear that the policies of Chamberlain and Lord Halifax, who Bouverie calls the “evangelicals of appeasement” would give away almost anything to achieve an Anglo-German Pact. Bouverie does an excellent job developing the pacifist movement in England and the attitude of British elites toward Germany. To the author’s credit he not only focuses on the major players in English politics during the period but others like Baron Lord Rothermere, his brother Lord Northcliffe, and Geoffrey Dawson who greatly impacted British public opinion through their newspaper empires. In addition, Sir Robert Cecil, an ardent advocate of the League of Nations and the Peace Ballot in favor of collective security, Ernest Jenner, a banker, the historian Arnold Toynbee, former Labor leader George Lansbury, all whom received audiences with Hitler among others that the author discusses. These individuals were able to mold public opinion and create further pressure on Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin who was replaced by Chamberlain. Bouverie’s narrative is grounded in social and political history and makes exhaustive use personal papers, documentary collections, and the press. He explains that England’s response to Hitler derives from a number of critical works such as John Maynard Keynes’ THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE PEACE written in 1919 which pointed out the deficiencies in the Versailles Treaty. Many in power in England saw the rise of Hitler as a manifestation of legitimate German grievances concerning the treaty, thus ameliorating Hitler’s “Diktat of Versailles” became a rallying cry for appeasers. Those individuals include the British Ambassador to Germany, Neville Henderson; Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, and Sir Horace Wilson, the government’s Chief Industrial Advisor and Chamberlain’s alter ego. Bouverie presents an incisive narrative concerning the raucous debate in British politics centering around rearmament, especially since Hitler was rearming Germany right under the nose of France and England undoing that clause of the treaty. England would face reality and in 1934 agreed to a naval treaty with Germany allowing the Nazis a navy 35% of that of Great Britain (though at the time the treaty was signed Germany had already passed that threshold). The author takes the reader through each major crisis that predated World War II. Beginning with attempts at an Anglo-German Treaty recognizing Germany’s eastern borders and League membership; the German occupation of the Rhineland in March, 1936; the Anschluss with Austria in March, 1938; machinations against Czechoslovakia leading to the Munich Conference in September, 1938; the seizure of all of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and the final crisis in Danzig that resulted in the invasion of Poland and the “Phony War” that followed. In each instance Bouverie provides insights into the thought patterns of English politicians and why they did little or nothing to stop Hitler. The author also explores the opposition to the Baldwin and Chamberlain governments, in particular Winston Churchill who found the warnings he had offered about Hitler since 1933 coming home to roost. But it is clear that the “evangelical appeasers” faced no serious opposition or obstacles in Parliament. One of Bouverie’s best chapters deals with “Hitler’s Wonderland” reflecting British attitudes toward Germany in light of the Nuremburg Party rallies and the 1936 Olympics that took place in Berlin. British elites like King Edward VIII, Charles Vane Tempest-Stewart, and the 7th Marquis of Londonderry all visited Germany a number of times and became the United Kingdom’s leading Hitler apologists. Bouverie provides fascinating portraits of the periods leading characters. His most important was his analysis of Chamberlain describing his intellectual self-assurance, a trait that would not allow him to consider the opinions and findings of others. His arrogance would alienate Laborite’s as well as people in his own party. This would prove a disaster as he tried to form governmental coalitions in 1939 and 1940. In his defense Bouverie points out that Chamberlain had been a social reformer, but events did not allow him to pursue that interest. As the former Chancellor of the Exchequer he realized England could not afford an arms race, so he tried to engage his countries enemies. Chamberlain realized he could not rely on the United States, in large part because of his low opinion of Washington, believed that “careful diplomacy” would in the end be successful. Bouverie is careful to point out that Chamberlain did not invent appeasement as British governments had been practicing it since the early 1920s, but it is Chamberlain who seems to have earned the mantle of the “great appeaser” because of Munich and beyond due to his innate stubbornness in dealing with those who disagreed with him. Bouverie’s narrative allows the reader to eavesdrop on many interesting conversations and events. Particularly fascinating was a lunch thrown by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop at the German Embassy on March 11, 1938 with British politicians in attendance at the same time that Hitler demanded the resignation of Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg or suffer an invasion. Also interesting is the verbal give and take between Chamberlain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, a pro-German appeaser and his predecessor Anthony Eden who resigned over English recognition of Mussolini’s seizure of Abyssinia. The give and take in the English cabinet after the Anschluss fearing Hitler’s next move is important as the evidence that Bouverie presents makes it clear that no one in Chamberlain’s government wanted to risk war over Czechoslovakia a country they believed had little to do with British national security. Lastly, Bouverie’s discussion of conversations between Henderson and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop as negotiations proceeded in August 1939 is priceless. When war finally came, Bouverie notes that following the conquest of Poland, England and France declared war on Germany, but this was a rare case when war was declared but it was not fought until Hitler’s blitzkrieg entered France and the low countries in May 1940. Finally, Tory anti-appeasement rebels will begin an all-out effort to get rid of Chamberlain in and Bouverie’s coverage of probably the most important parliamentary debate in English history is exemplary as it finally brought Winston Churchill to power. Bouverie’s effort is very timely as Lynne Olson points out in her New York Times article, “Failure to Lead” (July 21, 2019). Olson commends Bouverie for providing historical evidence as what will occur when a politician who has no knowledge of foreign policy, like Chamberlain imagines himself to be an expert and bypasses other branches of government to further his aims. In addition, when one focuses only on negotiations with dictators and leaves their allies in the lurch…...sound familiar?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bob H

    A powerful and intriguing book by a new historian, with a new and well-researched look at a dark time in Europe's history. Mostly from the British point of view, it covers not just the infamous September 1938 Munich summit but the period from the accession of Hitler in January 1933 to the fall of Neville Chamberlain in May 1940. There's a host of vivid characters, drawn in a compelling manner: Chamberlain, Stanley Baldwin (the preceding PM), Duff Cooper, Anthony Eden, Hitler, Ribbentrop (ambassa A powerful and intriguing book by a new historian, with a new and well-researched look at a dark time in Europe's history. Mostly from the British point of view, it covers not just the infamous September 1938 Munich summit but the period from the accession of Hitler in January 1933 to the fall of Neville Chamberlain in May 1940. There's a host of vivid characters, drawn in a compelling manner: Chamberlain, Stanley Baldwin (the preceding PM), Duff Cooper, Anthony Eden, Hitler, Ribbentrop (ambassador to the UK, later German foreign minister), and, the Greek chorus of the story, Winston Churchill. We're shown Munich in a progression of Western appeasement (or, often, diffidence) in the face of Italian and German provocations in foreign policy. It began, we're told, as a common policy from the 1920s, built on a number of peace treaties in the hope of averting another war. However, the 1930s would see increasingly brazen provocations, notably the 1935 Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the German march on the demilitarized Rhineland, the Italo-German presence in the Spanish civil war from 1936, the rearmament of ground and air units and, through these, the breach of longstanding and newer (often stopgap) accords with the Western powers. The author shows us how the memory of the (First) World War would weigh on British and French leadership, and stresses their defeatism and aversion to another great war, but he also shows the shifts in their publics' mindset as Germany and Italy continued to defy the conventional wisdom. We learn, particularly, of defeatism among the British and French general staffs, which could not have helped the civilian leaders' confidence, and how propaganda (particularly fear of air attack) fed that mindset. There were clues that the Germans and Italians were weaker than they proclaimed. The 1938 seizure of Austria was brazen enough, but the German army left broken-down vehicles all the way to Vienna. Certainly, the Germans were well aware (as Gen. Jodl would testify at Nuremberg) of their weaknesses on the ground and in the air; when the Sudetenland crisis with Czechoslovakia loomed in September 1938 the presence of 34 Czech divisions and 100 French should have counted for more. In short, instead the French and British, at Munich, surrendered the Czech Sudetenland (and with it, the border defenses) without their input. The British and French public seemed relieved at the time (Churchill was scorned for calling it the defeat it was) but were quickly repelled by the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938 and then the German seizure, in March 1939, of the rest of Czechoslovakia, in breach of the assurances at Munich. Even then (no spoiler) it's astonishing to read of the continuing diffidence on the Allied side. Chamberlain planned to adjourn Parliament for August and September 1939 (!), and let British and French defense negotiations with the USSR drift, and drift, until Stalin struck a deal with Hitler instead. Even with the war under way in 1939, the Western powers would, in essence, abandon Poland as well, by keeping their armies motionless on the Western Front -- the well-named Phoney War. We do find that some British figures, many in Chamberlain's own party, did begin to push back. We find that Churchill was not simply on the back bench but was serving on at least one Parliamentary subcommittee on defense technology, in fields like aircraft design and radar, that would be crucial. In all, it's a thorough, gripping, indispensable and damning retelling of the run-up to World War II and the disasters waiting in 1940. Highest recommendation. (Read in advance-reading copy via Amazon Vine).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Appeasing Hitler – A terrific book that reminds us who the Guilty people were When appeasement finally failed, my Grandfather and his countrymen found out what happens when politicians let the people down. He was with the 8th Engineers trying to stop the Nazi invasion of Poland alongside other soldiers, awaiting help that never came from their allies in Britain and France. When Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich waving a piece of paper declaring ‘peace in our time,’ having already Czechoslo Appeasing Hitler – A terrific book that reminds us who the Guilty people were When appeasement finally failed, my Grandfather and his countrymen found out what happens when politicians let the people down. He was with the 8th Engineers trying to stop the Nazi invasion of Poland alongside other soldiers, awaiting help that never came from their allies in Britain and France. When Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich waving a piece of paper declaring ‘peace in our time,’ having already Czechoslovakia down river. It was stated that the disaster of Munich 1938 saved war for a year, as it meant rearmament could take place. A plausible argument if it were not for those who supported appeasement who repeated this line often and sometimes taken as a historical fact. Reading this book, you will find that in 1938, Germany also was not ready for war, and if the British and French had attacked Germany things may have been different. But we will never know. In this excellent debut, historian Tim Bourverie, sets out his argument, in a fine and very readable book. Any student who manages to graduate with a degree in Modern History, will tell you most books on appeasement are as dry as a bone. This is one of the most engaging history books I have read in a very long time. What Bourverie has done is written a vivid, detailed and one of the most fascinating investigations on what should bring shame on all those politicians that took part in the machinations of the 1930s. When ‘Cato’ published The Guilty Men, back in 1940 and drew up a list Guilty Men, Bourverie’s list is far longer. Showing that no stone has been left unturned, there are some surprising inclusions, and the lengths they would go to support appeasement and Germany. How the editors of both The Times and the Daily Mail were pro-Hitler and pro- appeasement. How the director-general of the BBC offered to fly the Swastika from the roof of Broadcasting House! I will also add Nancy Astor, the first female to take her seat in the House, was an avid fan of Nazi Germany along with the rest of her Cliveden Set. Bourverie also records the heroes, and not just Churchill, and how the Foreign Office was often in despair at Lord Halifax and the cohort around Chamberlain. What this book does remind us, that it is easy to point out the guilty when we look back at distance. People have forgotten that appeasement was a popular policy in the country as a whole. People could remember the Great War and what that had delivered on many families across the country. How appeasement did not start with Chamberlain, but that he was the most intransigent supporter of the policy. What I do like is that Bourverie puts the case clearly against those who say that Chamberlain had allowed Britain to rearm, they only real thing he had managed was to unit the country in preparation for war. By 1939, Germany was in a more powerful position than it had been the year before, and Hitler got the war he wanted. Sometimes Bouverie offers to much hindsight, but I would argue that is his journalistic tendencies breaking through, as he grows as a historian, he will offer up less of the Monday Quarterback and more analysis. This is an exceptional debut and will be on University reading lists very shortly, and an brilliant addition to the appeasement canon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Thoroughly average. I don't understand this kind of history. We have perspective, why not use it? This is a familiar story, and Bouverie tells it ABC like a journalist, not a historian. There may be a few new details, but there are no new insights. He does not even try. > the publication of a number of high-profile political memoirs suggested that the catastrophe had been one tremendous bungle. 'The nations', wrote Lloyd George in his best-selling War Memoirs , 'slithered over the brink into the Thoroughly average. I don't understand this kind of history. We have perspective, why not use it? This is a familiar story, and Bouverie tells it ABC like a journalist, not a historian. There may be a few new details, but there are no new insights. He does not even try. > the publication of a number of high-profile political memoirs suggested that the catastrophe had been one tremendous bungle. 'The nations', wrote Lloyd George in his best-selling War Memoirs , 'slithered over the brink into the boiling cauldron of war without any trace of apprehension or dismay.'5 The statesmen had failed in 1914 and the younger generation was not going to allow them to fail again. On 9 February 1933, students at the Oxford Union approved by 275 votes to 153 the motion that 'This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country'. > The evils of the regime were plain to see and yet many within the British elite chose to embrace Nazi Germany on account of its achievements and its opposition to communism. In so doing they were wont to indulge in moral relativism or make invidious parallels, such as Lloyd George's comment that Hitler had not shown half the ferocity towards the Jews as Cromwell had towards the Irish Catholics. … 'People of the governing classes think only of their own fortunes, which means hatred of the Reds', lamented the Government MP a few weeks later. 'This creates a perfectly artificial but at present most effective secret bond between ourselves and Hitler. Our class interests, on both sides, cut across our national interests.' > To understand Hitler and his dark ideology, enquirers might have studied Mein Kampf . Yet in Britain, as in France, that declaration of intent was little read and even less understood. To begin with, the first English translation did not appear until 1933 and had been so heavily pruned of incriminating material that it was a third shorter than the original. > Mussolini. The independence of Austria was a major Italian interest and the Duce moved troops to the Brenner Pass as a warning to Germany that Italy was not going to stand by and allow the union of Germany with Austria, the so-called Anschluss. This had a lasting effect on Chamberlain, who would continue to view Mussolini as a check on Hitler right up to the outbreak of war > Though less concerned over the fate of the League, both Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were similarly convinced that war with Germany could have no positive outcome. France 'might succeed in crushing Germany with the aid of Russia', mused the Prime Minister, 'but it would probably only result in Germany going Bolshevik'. > In retrospect, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland was seen as a watershed in the inter-war years: the last chance of stopping Hitler without a major war. This interpretation, propounded by Churchill in The Gathering Storm, was based on the knowledge that Hitler's bold stroke had been a massive gamble and that even limited action by the French Army would have been enough to drive the Germans out of the zone. Indeed, contrary to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers reported by General Gamelin, only three thousand German troops had crossed onto the western bank of the Rhine > the remilitarisation of the Rhineland greatly restricted France's ability to come to the aid of her allies in eastern Europe – Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia, not to mention Austria – by launching an invasion of Germany through the undefended zone. The door to Germany had been closed and the French had been humiliated in the process. Conversely, Germany had grown considerably stronger and Hitler had scored a triumph in the face of scepticism from his own Generals. > when Winston was born lots of fairies swooped down on his cradle with gifts – imagination, eloquence, industry, ability, and then came a fairy who said 'No one person has a right to so many gifts', picked him up and gave him such a shake and twist that with all these gifts he was denied judgement and wisdom. And that is why while we delight to listen to him in this House we do not take his advice. > For Hitler, Munich was ostensibly a triumph. He got everything he had demanded at Godesberg – the only real difference being, as Churchill pointed out, that the occupation was now staggered, over ten days, rather than happening all at once. Of course, as we now know, Hitler wanted a localised war which would have allowed him to annex the whole of Czechoslovakia and almost immediately regretted the deal he had made. … the Munich Conference destroyed a plot by the German opposition to remove Hitler from office the moment he gave the orders to march. Whether this coup, which was in place by 15 September and was led by the Chief of the General Staff, General Franz Halder, would have succeeded is doubtful. What is beyond doubt is that it was dead the moment the Western Prime Ministers decided to board their aeroplanes. > From the perspective of the Western Powers, the principal defence of the Munich Agreement has rested on the fact that neither Britain nor France were ready for war in 1938 and that Munich granted them an extra year in which to prepare – the so-called 'breathing space'. … Germany was in no position to launch the Battle of Britain in 1938. Not only – as the events of 1939 and 1940 were to prove – did she first need to defeat her immediate neighbours and secure airfields along the Channel coast before she could turn her attention to Britain, but in 1938 the Luftwaffe was not equipped for a long-range strategic bombing campaign. Of course, not all of this was known to the Western leaders, many of whom were deceived by German propaganda. … the Germans were not ready for a major war in 1938 and would have been placed in an extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, position if Britain, France and the Soviet Union had joined forces in defence of Czechoslovakia … while the Western Powers made considerable progress in the 'extra year', the Germans made more, considerably outstripping the British and French on land and, to a lesser extent, in the air. … war for Czechoslovakia in 1938 would have split public opinion in both Britain and France, while it is unlikely that Britain would have enjoyed the support (at least initially) of the Dominions, all of which had made their opposition to war clear. > Against this, however, must be weighed the effects of losing the opportunity of binding the Soviet Union into a 'Grand Alliance' against Nazi Germany (as advocated by Churchill) which, if it had come to conflict, would have forced the Germans into a protracted two-front war from the very beginning. There were, of course, good reasons for distrusting Stalin (as Churchill was later to discover) but there were even better reasons for distrusting Hitler, whose word Chamberlain was prepared to accept … Crucially, Munich convinced Hitler that the Western Powers would never fight but continue to accept his demands. 'Chamberlain shook with fear when I uttered the word war . Don't tell me he is dangerous', the Führer was heard to scoff, shortly after the Agreement. Later, when stiffening his Generals before the Polish campaign he declared, 'Our enemies are small worms. I saw them in Munich.' > had succeeded in tapping the telephones of a number of leading anti-appeasers, including Churchill's. 'They, of course, are totally unaware of my knowledge of their proceedings', boasted Chamberlain to his sister Ida. But 'I had continual information of their doings and sayings which for the nth time demonstrated how completely Winston can deceive himself.' > apart from attacks on British shipping, the Luftwaffe left the British Isles unmolested between September 1939 and July 1940. In return, the RAF dropped leaflets rather than bombs on German cities, while the French made a token advance of five miles into the Saarland before pausing and retreating to the safety of the Maginot Line. In Poland, it was very different. … In the east, the Soviets reported 50,000 Polish fatalities but no wounded – a statistic implying mass executions such as those which occurred near the Katyn Forest between March and May 1940.9 Over the next six years an estimated 5.7 million Poles died or were murdered under German and (temporary) Soviet occupation – one-fifth of the pre-war population > That Halifax, rather than Churchill, was the preference of most Conservative MPs, the Labour and Liberal parties, the Cabinet, the press, Chamberlain and the King, is well documented. Immensely esteemed and devoid of enemies, despite his thirty-year political career, the high priest of respectable Toryism, as opposed to the erratic author of the Dardanelles, appeared to almost everyone as the obvious choice. The problem was that Halifax did not want the job

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gram

    A comprehensive and eminently readable account of the failure of Britain's politicians and diplomats to prevent the domination of Europe by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. This is a brilliant debut by former political journalist, Tim Bouverie, detailing the rise of Hitler from the early 1930's to the fall of France in the summer of 1940. He examines every aspect of Britain's repeated attempts to satisfy Hitler's growing demands to extend Germany's power in Central Europe. As early as 1933, Brita A comprehensive and eminently readable account of the failure of Britain's politicians and diplomats to prevent the domination of Europe by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. This is a brilliant debut by former political journalist, Tim Bouverie, detailing the rise of Hitler from the early 1930's to the fall of France in the summer of 1940. He examines every aspect of Britain's repeated attempts to satisfy Hitler's growing demands to extend Germany's power in Central Europe. As early as 1933, Britain's Ambassador to Germany, Sir Horace Rumbold, was warning of the dangers of Nazism and the possibility of another World War. Unlike most European politicians, Rumbold had read what Hitler planned for Europe in "Mein Kampf". Several other major British politicians, including Winston Churchill, were to echo his fears, but far too many felt that the only way to stop Hitler was by means of appeasement. So it was that over the course of several years, governments led by Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, tolerated the worst excesses of Germany's Nazis and Italy's Fascists who also enjoyed great support from Britain's upper classes. The latter - aided by major British newspapers - were only too happy to foster closer Anglo-German ties and pressure Chamberlain and his ministers to work with the Nazis who were seen as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. In all his dealings with Chamberlain and various British diplomats, Hitler got what he wanted and, even with hindsight, one can only despair at their failure to realise that Hitler's lust for power would never be satisfied. Although a history book, there are times when Tim Bouverie's book reads like a political thriller as time and again appeasers and anti-appeasers battle for supremacy within Britain's Houses of Parliament and throughout the corridors of power in Europe. This book is a must for anyone interested in the history of the Second World War. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    interesting book looking at events leading up to WW2 informative but was a bit journalistic though but will open up a debate on the appeasement years and what happened with Britains policy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Goldenberg

    If you feel you already know about the UK government’s policy of appeasing Hitler in the period just before the outbreak of war, then Tim Bouverie’s very comprehensive account, starting with Hitler coming to power in 1933, will almost certainly fill you in on a lot you don’t know. Through access to private letters and diaries, he not only follows the political machinations but also what many people outside of politics were thinking. While much of it was familiar to me, there were still some surp If you feel you already know about the UK government’s policy of appeasing Hitler in the period just before the outbreak of war, then Tim Bouverie’s very comprehensive account, starting with Hitler coming to power in 1933, will almost certainly fill you in on a lot you don’t know. Through access to private letters and diaries, he not only follows the political machinations but also what many people outside of politics were thinking. While much of it was familiar to me, there were still some surprises. For example, the government acquiescing to Hitler’s request to get sections of the British press to tone down their negative portrayals of him, including putting pressure on the popular cartoonist, David Lowe.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Stelling

    I rather enjoyed this book, although I finished it sooner than expected after finding the last 150 pages or so were all just references and notes! This period is a bit more modern than I’m normally interested in, but I feel that this book is different to the majority of other books written about this period due to the unique way it focuses on the build up to the war and the political appeasement movement rather than the war itself. All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to, s I rather enjoyed this book, although I finished it sooner than expected after finding the last 150 pages or so were all just references and notes! This period is a bit more modern than I’m normally interested in, but I feel that this book is different to the majority of other books written about this period due to the unique way it focuses on the build up to the war and the political appeasement movement rather than the war itself. All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to, so would definitely recommend. 😃

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fred Klein

    This book will open your eyes to the events leading up to and following the failed Munich Pact, meant to "appease" Hitler from seeking territory through invasions by handing over the Sudetenland, which Hitler wanted because of its German population. The story we all know is that Chamberlain did not have the courage to stand up to Hitler, but that is way too simple. The statesmen of the time had been through the destruction of World War I and would do whatever they could to avoid another war. Czec This book will open your eyes to the events leading up to and following the failed Munich Pact, meant to "appease" Hitler from seeking territory through invasions by handing over the Sudetenland, which Hitler wanted because of its German population. The story we all know is that Chamberlain did not have the courage to stand up to Hitler, but that is way too simple. The statesmen of the time had been through the destruction of World War I and would do whatever they could to avoid another war. Czechoslovakia was an artificial country, created by the Versailles agreement after WWI. The European powers were more threatened by communism than Nazism, seeing Germany as a bulwark against the Soviet Union (led by another dictator). Britain and France were not militarily prepared for another war -- although, it turns out, neither were the Germans. In other words, it's not so simple as Chamberlain was a wimp. It made me wonder how we would stand up today in the same situation. That's not to say that Chamberlain was so wonderful. He was clearly the wrong man to bargain with Hitler, and there were many missteps along the way. And, well, we all know what happened. This was an excellent book. It started out a bit slow for me because of my limited understanding of British politics, but my interest increased once Chamberlain showed up. The book could have used more maps and a glossary of the main people involved. There were so many names that I often had to go to the index to remember who they were.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    I couldn’t stand the narrator of the audio book. He was all bombast and drama and it was painful to listen to. I may try again someday with the ebook.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    This might be my last review of a book received through the discontinued Penguin Books First to Read program. I requested 29 since 2015 and was selected for 19 (I might read one more that I was not selected for, thus the "might") and I appreciate the opportunities. Bouverie has composed an incredibly thorough relation of a narrow history of a particular time for a particular country, and particular players and their particularly disastrous choices of action. His political journalist chops are app This might be my last review of a book received through the discontinued Penguin Books First to Read program. I requested 29 since 2015 and was selected for 19 (I might read one more that I was not selected for, thus the "might") and I appreciate the opportunities. Bouverie has composed an incredibly thorough relation of a narrow history of a particular time for a particular country, and particular players and their particularly disastrous choices of action. His political journalist chops are apparent...his research is extensive. For a reader not of his country, the insights were well received, including the acerbic observations throughout (on the future Edward VIII and his hands off opinion, Bouverie said "[l]acking intelligence and a sense of constitutional propriety, the Prince made his views clear ...") There are lessons here that are not being heeded in the country of this reader. I may draw crosshairs for finding parallels in a particular political party's appeasement of the heinous actions and comportment of the current (as of this writing) elected executive. There are other observations that parallel today; one being: I have the impression that the persons directing the policy of the Hitler Government are not normal. Many of us, indeed, have a feeling that we are living in a country where fanatics, hooligans and eccentrics have got the upper hand. - British Ambassador to Berlin [Sir Horace Rumbold] to the Foreign Secretary [Sir John Simon], June 30, 1933Hitler laid out in plain text his intentions in his manifesto Mein Kampf, yet somehow the sign were ignored. (Obviously I wasn't there...and hindsight is always clearer.) Rumbold wrote to General Sir Ian Hamilton in 1938The continued effort to exterminate the Jews [Bouverie inserts "four years before the Wannsee Conference at which the 'Final Soultion' was agreed"] is part of their policy I cannot understand and this is turning the world opinion against them with all its dangerous repercussions...Unheeded. Rumbold makes another appearance in the epigraph to chapter VII "Hitler's Wonderland":I have rather come to the conclusion that he average Englishman - whilst full of common sense as regards to internal affairs - is often muddle-headed, sloppy and gullible when he considers foreign affairs.Huh. Fast forward to 2016 and since...little has changed save that maybe that common sense regarding internal affairs has waned (I speculate for Great Britain, but observe in the US.) There is a lot here. A lot. I'll fast forward myself... Thanks to Bouverie, one can't help but feel for the bumbling of Chamberlain. When Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, Bouverie saysThe consensus that appeasement was now dead was instantaneous. In one swift stroke, Hitler had broken his word - repudiating the claim that Sudetenland constituted his last territorial demand - and revealed that "lust for conquest" with which his critics had always charged him. There could be no further dealings with such a man and, as one Chamberlain loyalist noted in his diary, "we" should fight him as soon as "we are strong enough." The French knew they had to prepare for war, but "Chamberlain, by contrast, did not immediately grasp the transformative nature of the event." Bouverie snarks politely more than once, but (mostly) maintains his journalistic professionalism (I laughed at his comment on the British representative to the Soviet talks in 1939, Admiral the Honorable Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Drax, as sounding "like a character from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta."!) But he is hard on point in his conclusionThe failure to perceive the true character of the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler stands as the single greatest failure of British policy makers during this period, since it was from this that all subsequent failures - the failure to rearm sufficiently, the failure to build alliances (not the least with the Soviet Union), the failure to project British power and the failure to educate public opinion - stemmed. For defenders of appeasement, this is an exercise in ahistoricism.We are failing today to maintain alliances, failing to measure the threats of dictatorial nations, allowing immediate twitting distractions to sway eyes from other threats such as Daesh. Those who do not study history might be doomed to repeat it, but those who do are too often forced to watch those who don't. Very good history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    A fascinating read on the years leading up to WW2 and how/why the war broke out and lasted for as long as it did. Out of the atrocities of WW1 and the depression, it's interesting to read how so many British people were opposed to another war. In fact how many people, including politicians, press and the monarch were decidedly pro-German and impressed with Hitlers early years as leader. Hitler was a mastermind in exploiting this. Disregarding the Treaty of Versailles, moving out of the League of N A fascinating read on the years leading up to WW2 and how/why the war broke out and lasted for as long as it did. Out of the atrocities of WW1 and the depression, it's interesting to read how so many British people were opposed to another war. In fact how many people, including politicians, press and the monarch were decidedly pro-German and impressed with Hitlers early years as leader. Hitler was a mastermind in exploiting this. Disregarding the Treaty of Versailles, moving out of the League of Nations and targetting small countries such as Czechoslovakia who through Britain's arrogance and nonchalance was disregarded (most didn't know where it was, or as Bouverie notes, thought it sounded like a disease). It's as captivating as it is frustrating to read. The signs, in hindsight, seem so obvious yet it's understandable why Britain had become so pacifist. I found myself rooting for Rumbold, Vansittart and Churchill who seemed the only ones to notice the obvious threat. How Hitler raised a country out of a lost world war, rearmed, made allies and flounced the restrictions put in front of him whilst playing people off each other is astonishing and is highlighted so well by Bouverie. It raises so many questions. Churchill's previous exploits meant that all faith was lost in him as a leader, what if this had not been the case and he served instead of the pro-appeasing Chamberlain? Had Britain been stronger in foreign policy and built a bond with France, and in turn, been more stringent with Germany over their post-WW1 capabilities. If stronger actions had been promised if Germany invaded the Czechs, then it's so easy to think how a 6-year atrocity could have been avoided. These are just a small number of points that Bouverie highlights in what is a fantastic and ultimately readable narrative about 1933 up until Dunkirk.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    Recommended by that same stranger at the Chevy Chase Montgomery County Library. A detailed & complete history of British political reaction to German Naziism during & immediately following the years that Neville Chamberlain served as Prime Minister. Chamberlain was a rather dull, naive, & unimaginative man who thought all parties to a dispute were honest & reasonable & could be brought to benign agreements & that he was put in place by god to help them reach these agreements. He used the word "a Recommended by that same stranger at the Chevy Chase Montgomery County Library. A detailed & complete history of British political reaction to German Naziism during & immediately following the years that Neville Chamberlain served as Prime Minister. Chamberlain was a rather dull, naive, & unimaginative man who thought all parties to a dispute were honest & reasonable & could be brought to benign agreements & that he was put in place by god to help them reach these agreements. He used the word "appeasement" himself & practiced it repeatedly and by intention thru the building crisis. Munich was not an isolated event. In fairness to him, he was surrounded by a number of like minded people as well as nitwits, cowards, & lovers of all things German but there were other voices too in opposition. This is an interesting & very well written book. If one were to look to this book & this time of history for lessons, it would seem that maintaining military preparedness & a willingness to draw a line in the sand would be the lesson. This is hardly a paean to pacifism & disarmament.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    An interesting book and viewpoint on a failed diplomatic agreement made by British prime minister Neville Chamberlain with Adolf Hitler in which Adolf Hitler broke his promise never to start a war in Europe causing Chamberlain to step down as prime minister of Great Britain.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    Appeasing Hitler is a very well written book. The main goal is to explain the broad political context of the appeasement movement and it does I fine job in that. Most interestingly, it shows that appeasement escalated continuously and the first step was the feeble reaction of France and England to the italian invasion of Abyssinia. This book seems to be almost an answer to Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister: it shows Chamberlain as a weak and naive character. Th Appeasing Hitler is a very well written book. The main goal is to explain the broad political context of the appeasement movement and it does I fine job in that. Most interestingly, it shows that appeasement escalated continuously and the first step was the feeble reaction of France and England to the italian invasion of Abyssinia. This book seems to be almost an answer to Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister: it shows Chamberlain as a weak and naive character. This picture is made particularly clear by the several letters from Chamberlain to his sisters that are transcribed in the text. In this sense, the book follows more the churchillian interpretation of the causes of the Second War: Hitler could have been stopped earlier by firm action. The author does not shows the number, but refutes the thesis that appeasement was useful to give England the time to rearm. Tim Bouverie argues that Germany was able to build up its arms capacity more than England. To a certain extent, it is also true that British intelligence failed: England greatly overestimated german belic capacity.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wang

    Meticulous research and vivid storytelling. Critical analysis doesn't pull his punches. Meticulous research and vivid storytelling. Critical analysis doesn't pull his punches.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karl Hafer, Jr.

    Absolutely engrossing and the perfect balance of detail. Lots of interesting new bits as well! The tone is somewhat sardonic, which sounds odd, but makes for a great read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    BrianC75

    Excellent book on a topic which most authors might find difficult to present in an interesting and entertaining way. Bouverie, despite this being his first major publication, achieves this in spades. This account of the political ping pong game, which took place in the 1930s, is truly riveting and reads like a thriller. The chain of events is difficult to take in - everything is larger than life - the helplessness of the smaller European countries at risk, the despicable actions of the villainous Excellent book on a topic which most authors might find difficult to present in an interesting and entertaining way. Bouverie, despite this being his first major publication, achieves this in spades. This account of the political ping pong game, which took place in the 1930s, is truly riveting and reads like a thriller. The chain of events is difficult to take in - everything is larger than life - the helplessness of the smaller European countries at risk, the despicable actions of the villainous dictators, the gullibility and ineffective actions of the leaders of the democratic world and the juxtaposition of the chain of events that inexorably leads to World War II when so many millions lost their lives. Antony Beevor is a favourite author of mine and I eagerly await any new book of his. I will be looking out for Bouverie's books in the same way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Wray

    This is already a candidate for the best book I'll read all year, and is a magnificent piece of narrative history by a very exciting young historian. Tim Bouverie is no doubt helped by his raw material, which has political high drama and a main cast that consists of truly fascinating characters: Churchill, Chamberlain, Eden, Halifax, Mussolini, Goering, Ribbentrop and, of course, Hitler. This book is also somewhat different to many others on the topic in that it covers the whole period from Hitle This is already a candidate for the best book I'll read all year, and is a magnificent piece of narrative history by a very exciting young historian. Tim Bouverie is no doubt helped by his raw material, which has political high drama and a main cast that consists of truly fascinating characters: Churchill, Chamberlain, Eden, Halifax, Mussolini, Goering, Ribbentrop and, of course, Hitler. This book is also somewhat different to many others on the topic in that it covers the whole period from Hitler's appointment as German chancellor in 1933 to the end of the phoney war in 1940, so examining how the policy developed and attitudes changed over time. Appeasement is defined as the attempt by Britain and France to avoid war by making 'reasonable' concessions to German and Italian grievances during the 1930's, and has prompted contentious debate since: "Condemned, on the one hand, as a 'moral and material disaster', responsible for the deadliest conflict in history, it has also been described as 'a noble idea, rooted in Christianity, courage and common-sense'. Between these two polarities lies a mass of nuance, sub-arguments and historical skirmishes." Bouverie begins by highlighting the background to the policy of appeasement, which flowed from Britain's experience in the First World War: "Almost everyone had a father, husband, son, brother, cousin, fiancé or friend killed or maimed. When it was over, not even the victors could feel victorious. The Cenotaph, unveiled on Whitehall on 19 June 1919, was no Arc de Triomphe but a symbol of loss…In the years that followed the mantra was as consistent as it was determined: 'Never again!'. But it did happen again. Despite the best of intentions and efforts aimed at both conciliation and deterrence, the British and French found themselves at war with the same adversary a mere twenty-one years after the 'war to end all wars'. The purpose of this book is to contribute to our understanding of how this happened." Bouverie's writing is brisk and accessible, and he ably sketches the main characters and events of appeasement in a way that is both entertaining an informative. In parts, it almost reads like a political thriller. But there is a lot more to this book than froth, as he also provides clear and perceptive analysis. Among many helpful insights, one is that the sense that the Allies were to blame for the Nazis was critical to the mentality from which appeasement developed: "If Britain and France had 'created' national socialism then, logically, they could 'appease' it by redressing the grievances on which it had prospered." This was to make a couple of false assumptions that were to have tragic consequences for Europe, and indeed the world. Chamberlain, and others, assumed that the Nazi government, and Hitler in particular, could be reasoned with and would be willing to be pragmatic. In reality, each concession was seen as an opportunity to make further gains. Another is the extent to which attitudes to Europe came to bear upon the approach to appeasement: "It is notable how many of the prominent anti-appeasers - Churchill, Eden, Cooper, Nicolson, Spears, Vansittart, Austen Chamberlain – were Francophiles with a strong sense of British history as linked to the continent. The leading appeasers, by contrast, had little attachment to France and had, traditionally, understood foreign affairs from the perspective of the Empire and the English-speaking dominions. As Oliver Stanley put it, cruelly but with more than a grain of truth, 'to Baldwin, Europe was a bore, and to Chamberlain only a bigger Birmingham'." In analysing appeasement as an overall policy, Bouverie points out that, "The defence of appeasement has rested on four principal planks: that the parlous state of Anglo-French rearmament meant that neither Britain nor France was ready for war before the autumn of 1939; that the outbreak of war before this date would have split public opinion and, most probably, the British Empire; that it was not until the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in March 1939, that Hitler proved that he could not be trusted; and that the attempt to avoid the horrors of a new world war by making concessions to Nazi Germany was a reasonable policy worth trying." He has issues with all four of these contentions. In particular, he points to the autumn of 1938 as the time when the strategic advantage lay with the Allies as this was before both the absorption of Czechoslovakia and the conclusion of a pact with the Soviet Union, but that "the French and British proved incapable of appreciating or exploiting this reality." Further, he contends that this was due to both political and psychological factors forged in the aftermath of the First World War, meaning that "the British and French political classes had become imbued with the spirit, if not the doctrine, of pacifism." He also questions, reasonably, whether the assumption that public opinion was behind appeasement until the invasion of Czechoslovakia is really valid. However, the central reason that appeasement was a vain enterprise is surely the failure to understand the true nature of both Nazism and the leaders of the Nazi regime. Bouverie concludes that, "The failure to perceive the true character of the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler stands as the single greatest failure of British policy makers during this period, since it was this that all subsequent failures – the failure to rearm sufficiently, the failure to build alliances (not least with the Soviet Union), the failure to project British power and the failure to educate public opinion – stemmed." Bouverie contends, I believe rightly, that the idea that this character only became evident after the invasion of Czechoslovakia depends on a selective reading of the evidence. Hitler had done more than enough to demonstrate his duplicity by this point, but Chamberlain (among others) felt he could build a relationship, and come to an understanding with, the German dictator. Duff Cooper remarked that, "Chamberlain had never met anybody in Birmingham who in the least resembled Adolf Hitler. He had always found that the people he had met, whether in business or in local government, were not very dissimilar to himself – they were reasonable and honest, and it had always proved possible, with a certain amount of give and take, to make a deal with them that should prove satisfactory to both sides. These dictators, so it seemed to him, must also be reasonable men…His mistake was only that of the little boy who played with a wolf under the impression that it was a sheep – a pardonable zoological error – but apt to prove fatal to the player who makes it." The idea that the 'extra year' bought by Munich was a crucial period to allow Britain is also rejected for two reasons. First, Germany out-armed Britain in the same period while Britain’s strategic position deteriorated. Second, it is essentially ex post facto. Tim Bouverie’s final conclusion is searing: "The aim of appeasement was to avoid war altogether [which] obviously failed. Given the character and ideology of the man with whom he was dealing, it is inconceivable that he could have done otherwise. What was far from inevitable, however, was that he should also have neglected to build a system of alliances capable of deterring Hitler or, if it came to war, defeating him as swiftly as possible. Unlike his successor, he treated the United States with a frigid disdain, while his failure to secure a deal with the Soviet Union stands out as among the greatest blunders in that calamitous decade. His only undisputed achievement was that when Britain finally did decide to stop Hitler by force, she went united and with her Empire behind her. But even this accomplishment was born of the ultimate failure of his policy. Chamberlain’s motivation was never in doubt. His efforts were considerable and determined. But his policy critically misunderstood the nature of the man with whom he was treating and neglected those contingencies which might have contained him or defeated him more quickly. It was, in every sense, a tragedy."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jill Elizabeth

    This was a fascinating look at a small window in time that was probably one of the most pivotal of the twentieth century... Bouverie does a marvelous job at parsing out the various elements that led up to WWII and the expansion of authoritarianism in Western Europe. The book is a perfect blend of narrative and detail, exploring the rationales behind the various political perspectives and how a series of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and missteps brought the world into another war in such a This was a fascinating look at a small window in time that was probably one of the most pivotal of the twentieth century... Bouverie does a marvelous job at parsing out the various elements that led up to WWII and the expansion of authoritarianism in Western Europe. The book is a perfect blend of narrative and detail, exploring the rationales behind the various political perspectives and how a series of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and missteps brought the world into another war in such a short span of time. It's a fantastic compilation and a very powerful read - and one which offers lessons that we'd be wise to pay attention to... Thanks to Penguin First to Read for my review copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill and the road to war,” by Tim Bouverie (Penguin Random House, 2020). The conclusion I draw from this book is that only the death of Hitler could have averted World War II. Bouverie starts from just before Hitler’s accession as chancellor of Germany, but focuses almost exclusively on the British reaction. First, the British and French were so exhausted, depleted, spent, depressed, demoralized by the disaster that had been the Great War that their public “Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill and the road to war,” by Tim Bouverie (Penguin Random House, 2020). The conclusion I draw from this book is that only the death of Hitler could have averted World War II. Bouverie starts from just before Hitler’s accession as chancellor of Germany, but focuses almost exclusively on the British reaction. First, the British and French were so exhausted, depleted, spent, depressed, demoralized by the disaster that had been the Great War that their publics would have done almost anything to avoid another such. And that is what their governments tried to do. Bouverie uses every source available, including diaries, memoirs, speeches, news stories, anecdotes, to document what was happening. The British and French tried, finally almost desperately, to find ways to keep the peace. “Appeasement” was not a dirty word. He cites polls (rudimentary as they were) to show that the British supported almost anything to prevent another clash of arms. The French army was large and powerful, but the British army was almost non-existent, the RAF obsolete, and the government had no interest in spending money to build, rebuild, expand the military. So as the Nazis committed atrocities at home, rebuilt the Wehrmacht, nourished the Lutfwaffe, and caused provocations outside their borders, the British and French objected but did, essentially, nothing. The League of Nations proved impotent—because its members did not have the will to use it forcefully. Few Brits or Frenchmen had read Mein Kampf, which was not widely translated, so few had any sense of how deep Hitler’s animus was and how specific his plans for expansion. The only English statesman who was consistently and vociferously opposed to Nazism was Churchill, and he was distrusted and disliked. Everyone remembered the disaster of Gallipoli, his changing parties, his bellicosity. The British were still gentlemen and clubmen, very class-conscious and aware of who dressed for dinner, and were scrupulous about what to wear when. They kept thinking there was a point at which the Germans would be satisfied. Neville Chamberlain did all he could, all he was expected and asked to do, to keep the peace. He just could not conceive that the Nazis would keep lying and breaking promises. Not only that, but the sides were fluid: Mussolini seemed at times to be on the British side and against the Germans; what about the Japanese? Bouverie shows in ironic and excruciating detail how the British tried to figure out ways to accept what the Germans were doing and not have to mobilize. The most heartbreaking period, of course, is what happened to Czechoslovakia. The Czechs were in a strong defensive position, they had a powerful, motivated, modern army, they were fully prepared to fight---and the Wehrmacht was never as powerful as it seemed to be or as the British and French feared it was. Yet Chamberlain’s acceptance of the pact at Munich, forcing the Czechs to give up their most important territory in exchange for Hitler’s statement that that was all he wanted, was overwhelmingly popular. He was seen as a savior; he kept them out of war. Even at the very end, when the Germans overran Poland and the British and French declared war, his government tried to find ways to end the conflict. As for the Russians, they played a double game, which was largely justified. The British and French were dilatory and lacked urgency in negotiations with the Soviets, it made sense for the Russians also to negotiate with the Nazis. This entire book is an exercise in irony: we know how it came out, and it came out badly. Perhaps, with a more belligerent leadership and greater willingness to show force, the war could have been delayed (the only way it could have been stopped were if Hitler were no longer in power). Bouverie tells the story very clearly; even I was able to follow all the twists and turns and complicated changes in personnel. Sad. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/bo...

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Davis

    Appeasement, by Tim Bouverie; Duggan: New York; $30.00, hardback Appeasement. We speak of it as a sign of tremendous weakness in the face of dictatorship's demands. Adolf Hitler's war, the result of his manipulations of weakened Western democracies, is forever cited as the price paid for not standing up to bullies early on. Tim Bouverie, a remarkable new voice of narrative history, educated at Christ Church, Oxford, offers us a clear, incredibly well researched and argued volume on the theme. Hi Appeasement, by Tim Bouverie; Duggan: New York; $30.00, hardback Appeasement. We speak of it as a sign of tremendous weakness in the face of dictatorship's demands. Adolf Hitler's war, the result of his manipulations of weakened Western democracies, is forever cited as the price paid for not standing up to bullies early on. Tim Bouverie, a remarkable new voice of narrative history, educated at Christ Church, Oxford, offers us a clear, incredibly well researched and argued volume on the theme. His experience as a television political journalist and oft praised book reviewer is revealed by his arrow-like appropriate quotations, his razor sharp insights and his well chosen contextual asides. We discover that Hitler was never sure, upon his rise to power after 1933, of how far he could push the Allies of World War 1. Yet he conveyed, as so many quotations from actual encounters reveal, a supreme confidence in his lies, a fanatical dedication to his cause of expansion, and a con man's innate sense of his opponent's weakness. We discern Hitler's accommodating cooperative appearance might win over an English Member of Parliament, or his bluff a French politician, or his implied threats a recalcitrant British 'amateur diplomat'. In all, Hitler is shown to be a true, virtuoso chameleon. Likewise, another dictator and Hitler's ally, Mussolini, did the same. We learn too, from Bourverie's vast discoveries in private diaries, recently revealed government files, and a host of private letters, testimonials, and reminiscences, that it was from a relatively small coterie of the British elite that government decisions were made in the UK prior to the war. Only a select number of politicians,members of the aristocracy, and military really had a say in how to deal with first Hitler's, and then Mussolini's, depredations. Throughout, we discover that the League of Nations was impotent. It was never truly engaged to stop Mussolini's rape of Ethiopia, and the civil war's slaughter in Spain. We find that a rampant nationalism hamstrung any help from the United States. Indeed, Hitler's well known persecution of the Jews of Germany, and then Austria, was insufficient to induce the Allies to action. Western politicians lamented it, but continued to cooperate with him anyway. And then there are those in the West, in great number, who were on Hitler's side. They saw him as a bulwark against the communists of Stalin's Soviet Union. It was this fear of communism that held back clear, vociferous denunciations or confrontation of Hitler's schemes and murders. Perhaps one of the most tragic aspects of all this era is the fear, palpable dread, of another war. Nations were sickened by the Great War's slaughter of whole villages of young men. Millions opposed another war. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain could not compel rearmament, for a nation believed their previous sacrifice of a generation of young men and new institutions were sufficient to stop another war. Hitler manipulated his own people through appeals to their sense of victimhood, revenge for the despised Versailles Treaty, and spirited rebirth from the 'stab in the back' of the war. Bouverie makes this dread era come alive. It is as if you are reading the classified documents, hearing the musings, and wondering at various decisions. This book is not only informative, but captivating.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve Solnick

    Excellent, dense and compelling account of British efforts to appease Hitler and avoid war in the 1930s. While the author provides glimpses of events in France, Russia, Germany and the US, the focus is really pretty tightly on the British scene, which adds a drive and coherence to the narrative. While at times I found the mountain of detailed quotes (from letters, articles, Parliamentary debates) a bit repetitive, and while the outcome was not in doubt, I found the book hard to put down. I came a Excellent, dense and compelling account of British efforts to appease Hitler and avoid war in the 1930s. While the author provides glimpses of events in France, Russia, Germany and the US, the focus is really pretty tightly on the British scene, which adds a drive and coherence to the narrative. While at times I found the mountain of detailed quotes (from letters, articles, Parliamentary debates) a bit repetitive, and while the outcome was not in doubt, I found the book hard to put down. I came away with a few key impressions. First, Chamberlain's vanity was stupendous and catastrophic. He was convinced his personal connections with Hitler and Mussolini were more important than the dispassionate analyses of professional diplomats. At the same time, the interventions of a host of amateur diplomats continued to muddy the waters, always to ill effect. The lessons for the US, currently led by a President convinced of his personal charisma and disdainful of professional diplomacy, are profound and chilling - whether one looks at Russia, or Korea or the Middle East. Second, while hindsight reduces the 1930s to an unrelenting slog toward war, overseen by blind appeasers, the reality was far more volatile. Bouverie's account let’s us track the news cycles, week by week (at time day by day) and reminds us that for long periods, appeasement was popular and Chamberlain hailed as a savior. This is the danger of living news cycle to news cycle. Third, while Bouverie resists counterfactual history, the book is a goldmine for anyone keen to indulge in it. How close the British and French came to stalling the Anschluss or the Czechoslovak invasion. How he Western powers inadvertently and repeatedly undermined the opposition to Hitler within Germany. How the French and British governments criminally bungled the negotiations with Stalin over an alliance in 1939. So many branches... Finally, in a quote near the end, one British observers sums up the lessons of the decade thusly: "One cannot compromise with evil." Ultimately, Bouverie lays the blame for WW2 at Hitler's feet, but he makes it clear that a significant share of the responsibility for its length and destructiveness must also rest with those who sought that elusive compromise.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jack Glynne-Jones

    ‘Appeasing Hitler’ outlines and discusses 1930s appeasement in-depth, combining storytelling with an abundance of names, dates, facts and anecdotes drawn from a wide range of sources. This book is not just an overview of that Anglo-German connection, although that is the main focus, but also discusses Italy, Ethiopia and America too, to name a few. Britain tends to be the only nation cursed with the burden of the ‘appeasement’ label, so it was interesting to see how other countries played their ‘Appeasing Hitler’ outlines and discusses 1930s appeasement in-depth, combining storytelling with an abundance of names, dates, facts and anecdotes drawn from a wide range of sources. This book is not just an overview of that Anglo-German connection, although that is the main focus, but also discusses Italy, Ethiopia and America too, to name a few. Britain tends to be the only nation cursed with the burden of the ‘appeasement’ label, so it was interesting to see how other countries played their part. It was, unfortunately, moral cowardice on a continental scale, and I will say that it is apt that the root origins of the word ‘appeasement’ are French. Nonetheless, the British were the main actors, which is partly admirable, though also humiliating. The book really allows us to get into Chamberlain’s shoes, or, to be more specific, to wrap our hands around his umbrella handle, through offering a generous analysis of the reasons and justifications for his approach throughout. The overwhelming complexity of foreign policy, with the excessive number of considerations required, is successfully conveyed along with the ever-present phantom of the horrors of WW1. Despite this, it is clear by the end of the book who the standout characters are; those who, despite being imperialists, no haters of war, and appreciators of the allure of fascism, could nonetheless see the Nazis for what they were from the start. This excellent book allows us to understand thoroughly the reasonableness of both sides, without resigning itself to the safe refuge of being excessively 'even-handed' or giving a 'balanced' view for its own sake. Through this, one is able to develop a true appreciation of the complexity of moral and policy decision-making, and of the need, when passing judgement upon our forebears, to be vigilant against the convenience of hindsight and the arrogance of posterity. Nonetheless, this is one of those historical cases where, even by the standards of many of their contemporaries, leaders failed to turn on their own fears and prejudices, leaving them blind to the facts which were, as Orwell would put it, 'in front of their noses'. And in the cases of the Munich conferences, these facts were literally in front of their noses.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim Bogue

    Another book about Neville Chamberlain and appeasement requires new insights, and Bouverie supplies these by extensive quotations from the diaries and memoirs of those close to the political scene. The author has an eye for anecdotes and a very pleasing writing style. The reader gets to know the players (and commentators) and is caught up in the frenzy of the last years before WWII. Bouverie’s analysis is logical and trenchant. The story is basically presented chronologically and is almost always Another book about Neville Chamberlain and appeasement requires new insights, and Bouverie supplies these by extensive quotations from the diaries and memoirs of those close to the political scene. The author has an eye for anecdotes and a very pleasing writing style. The reader gets to know the players (and commentators) and is caught up in the frenzy of the last years before WWII. Bouverie’s analysis is logical and trenchant. The story is basically presented chronologically and is almost always easy to follow (tho every now and the he time skips as he switches commentators). A real effort is made this be fair to Chamberlain, despite the author’s annoyance at his slowness at catching on to Hitler (B certainly brings in a string of people, most evidently Churchill, who did catch on). And he notes the failures of the anti-appeasers, who too often lacked the courage of their convictions. But in the end B argues that if Chamberlain had taken a stand, even as late as Munich, things would have gone better. The book is nearly 500 pages long, but to me the main fault is it needs more length. The world outside GB too often gets short shrift, except for reacting. And this means that Stalin and the USSR get too good a press. If morality is a main factor in opposing Hitler, as B argues, then Stalin was clearly, in terms of body count, far worse. Still, a book really worth reading, about the end of an era.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rodney Jones

    A striking demonstration that history can be riveting. This exhaustive account of the overt as well as covert attempts of the governments of Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain to do some kind of deal (almost any kind of deal) with Hitler to avert Britain having to go to war, is lucidly related by Bouverie. It is an account in which few of the participants come out of with much honour, but as the author says in his Epilogue, in the final resort it was Hitler who bears the responsibility for WWII. Neve A striking demonstration that history can be riveting. This exhaustive account of the overt as well as covert attempts of the governments of Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain to do some kind of deal (almost any kind of deal) with Hitler to avert Britain having to go to war, is lucidly related by Bouverie. It is an account in which few of the participants come out of with much honour, but as the author says in his Epilogue, in the final resort it was Hitler who bears the responsibility for WWII. Nevertheless, the vanity of Chamberlain - a man of immense optimism and self-belief- seems to be a prime example of the old adage that '...the road to hell is paved with good intentions!' Nevertheless, at the end of the phoney war one has to have some sympathy for a man who now has become something of a tragic figure, as he gives way to Churchill. A fascinating feature that continually hits the reader between the eyes, is the class society that dominated the politics of the period. If a player is anyone less than a Lord (Dukes are most favoured), you wonder if their views can possibly be relevant. Granted that this was a Tory Government, but its members openly proclaim in their diaries that politics are interfering with shooting and fishing. In one case, it is hoped that Hitler will not start any conflict until the Cricket season is over! This genuinely readable history book is illuminating and scholarly. A genuine page-turner that I heartily recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pratley

    The aren't many books written about the Appeasement Era. I suppose it wasn't one of our most glorious chapters in our history & on whole we have collectively decided to gloss over it. Tim Bouverie's excellent book is both timely & educative. Timely because it does show that the great British public & the Conservative Party have a habit of getting all things foreign horribly wrong. I read the book whilst listening to the audio version performed by John Sessions. At first I found it hard going but The aren't many books written about the Appeasement Era. I suppose it wasn't one of our most glorious chapters in our history & on whole we have collectively decided to gloss over it. Tim Bouverie's excellent book is both timely & educative. Timely because it does show that the great British public & the Conservative Party have a habit of getting all things foreign horribly wrong. I read the book whilst listening to the audio version performed by John Sessions. At first I found it hard going but by the end I was thoroughly enjoying it. There is a lot of content & extended quotes which really need your full attention. I found the audio reading helped me retain more of this material as I went along. It is not all gloom & doom regarding us Brits. There were some leading figures who came out well & not just Churchill. Lord Halifax surprisingly, for me, comes out rather well. This explains why he became Ambassador to the USA after leaving the post of Foreign Secretary & why the majority of Conservatives wanted to him to be Prime Minister in 1940. The undoubted hero, though, of the book, for me, was Sir Horace Rumbold a man with a wonderfully English name & persona. You will have to read to read the book to find out why.

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