Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941

4.05 avg rating
( 688 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780141014180: Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941

Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-41 offers a penetrating insight into a series of momentous political decisions that shaped the course of the Second World War. The hurricane of events that marked the opening of the Second World War meant that anything could happen. For the aggressors there was no limit to their ambitions; for their victims a new Dark Age beckoned. Over the next few months their fates would be determined. In Fateful Choices Ian Kershaw re-creates the ten critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe's Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history. 'Powerfully argued ... important ... this book actually alters our perspective of the Second World War' Andrew Roberts 'This fascinating, closely-argued book adds to our understanding of a terrible war' Alan Massie 'A compelling re-examination of the conflict ... Kershaw displays here those same qualities of scholarly rigour, careful argument and sound judgement that he brought to bear so successfully in his life of Hitler' Richard Overy 'A splendidly lucid and impeccably argued exposition of the greatest political decisions of the Second World War' Max Hastings 'How fortunate that it is Ian Kershaw bringing his immense knowledge and clarity of thought to the task ... brilliantly explained ... an immensely wise book' Anthony Beevor Ian Kershaw (b. 1943) was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield from 1989-2008, and is one of the world's leading authorities on Hitler. His books include The 'Hitler Myth', his two volume biography Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, and Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941. He was knighted in 2002.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

IAN KERSHAW is the author of Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris; Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis; Making Friends with Hitler; and Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-4. Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis received the Wolfson History Prize and the Bruno Kreisky Prize in Austria for Political Book of the Year, and was joint winner of the inaugural British Academy Book Prize. Until his retirement in 2008, Ian Kershaw was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield. For services to history he was given the German award of the Federal Cross of Merit in 1994. He was knighted in 2002 and awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2004. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.

From The Washington Post:

Reviewed by Vince Rinehart

World War II made for great myths and great mythmakers. Consider this one, from Winston Churchill: "Future generations may deem it noteworthy that the supreme question of whether we should fight on alone never found a place upon the War Cabinet agenda."

In fact, from May 25 to 28, 1940, while the entire British Expeditionary Force was threatened with destruction at Dunkirk, Churchill and his war cabinet engaged in an intense debate over whether to seek detente by approaching Adolf Hitler through Italy's Benito Mussolini. Would a negotiated end to the war be possible? The foreign minister, Lord Halifax, forcefully advocated exploring the possibilities; Churchill passionately argued to the contrary and won, with crucial support from Neville Chamberlain, not often associated with such steadfastness. Even then, the war cabinet "did not rule out the possibility of an approach to Mussolini 'at some time,' though it explicitly did so in the current situation," writes Ian Kershaw in Fateful Choices, his ambitious history of the war's most important decisions. "It is not easy to imagine, in the light of later events, how insecure Churchill's position was in the middle of May 1940. His hold on authority, soon to become unchallengeable, was still tenuous."

That decision and nine others are the subjects of searching, careful -- sometimes pedantic -- analysis, drawing on a wealth of primary sources and bibliography, detailed in copious endnotes and a list of works cited. Kershaw, the author of Making Friends with Hitler and an acclaimed two-volume biography of the dictator, writes with deep command of his material, weaving together the consequences that each decision had on those that followed. The other decisions involve Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union; Japan's targeting of British, French and Dutch possessions in Southeast Asia; Mussolini's entry into the war and the subsequent invasion of Greece; Roosevelt opting to aid Britain and, later, to wage an undeclared naval war; Stalin ignoring the clear signs of the impending German attack; Japan choosing war with the United States; and two last choices by Hitler, to declare war on the United States and to give genocide against the Jews of Europe its final, monstrous shape.

Within 483 pages of text, that's a lot to get through, and for that reason Fateful Choices sometimes feels like a college textbook's survey history. At times the chewy prose is very slow slogging. Kershaw's analysis centers on the process of decision making, the war of memos and meetings and -- particularly with Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini -- the influence of personality and absolute power in leading up to disastrous choices. He briskly sums up Mussolini's orders to invade Greece: "What passed for dictatorial decisiveness was in reality the merest veneer of half-baked assumptions, superficial observations, amateurish judgement and wholly uncritical assessment, all based upon the best-case scenario."

Nothing truly revelatory there, and that is the case with some of the other decisions, including Japan's long path to the Tripartite Pact and war with the United States. In fact, Kershaw's unraveling of that decision and a few others seems to undermine a premise of the book, that "there was no inexorable path to be followed." The Japan of his history was at a watershed moment in a decades-old path toward great-power status and its own colonial empire, with a military that answered only to the emperor and was ruled as much by fanatical mid-rank officers as by its generals and admirals. It was trapped in a war in China and faced an uncompromising, rearming United States. Kershaw's portrait of Japanese leaders is almost poignant; all, including the emperor, were fatalistic about their chances of winning the war without an immediate knockout blow. At the same time, they were utterly convinced that the only alternative to war was national humiliation and subservience. The real choices here, as Kershaw notes, were made over decades, with the support of much of the Japanese public; by 1940, Japanese leaders were largely in a straitjacket not entirely of their own making.

The last decision Kershaw explores -- moving to the industrial-scale murder of Europe's Jews -- wasn't so much a decision as the endpoint of a long trajectory of anti-Semitism that found its ultimate exponent in Hitler and its impetus in the speed of his victories in 1940 and 1941. This final chapter is a horrifying chronicle of the "spiral of radicalization" in Nazi thinking that led from Mein Kampf to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a fitting coda to Kershaw's thoughtful, far-reaching examination of events that echo down to today.

Copyright 2007, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Trade Paperback.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Ian Kershaw s Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-41 offers a penetrating insight into a series of momentous political decisions that shaped the course of the Second World War. The hurricane of events that marked the opening of the Second World War meant that anything could happen. For the aggressors there was no limit to their ambitions; for their victims a new Dark Age beckoned. Over the next few months their fates would be determined. In Fateful Choices Ian Kershaw re-creates the ten critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe s Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history. Powerfully argued . important . this book actually alters our perspective of the Second World War Andrew Roberts This fascinating, closely-argued book adds to our understanding of a terrible war Alan Massie A compelling re-examination of the conflict . Kershaw displays here those same qualities of scholarly rigour, careful argument and sound judgement that he brought to bear so successfully in his life of Hitler Richard Overy A splendidly lucid and impeccably argued exposition of the greatest political decisions of the Second World War Max Hastings How fortunate that it is Ian Kershaw bringing his immense knowledge and clarity of thought to the task . brilliantly explained . an immensely wise book Anthony Beevor Ian Kershaw (b. 1943) was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield from 1989-2008, and is one of the world s leading authorities on Hitler. His books include The Hitler Myth , his two volume biography Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, and Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941. He was knighted in 2002. Bookseller Inventory # APG9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.49
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin 2008-02-28 (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Paperback Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Chiron Media
(Wallingford, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin 2008-02-28, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # NU-GRD-00481840

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.89
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Trade Paperback.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Ian Kershaw s Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-41 offers a penetrating insight into a series of momentous political decisions that shaped the course of the Second World War. The hurricane of events that marked the opening of the Second World War meant that anything could happen. For the aggressors there was no limit to their ambitions; for their victims a new Dark Age beckoned. Over the next few months their fates would be determined. In Fateful Choices Ian Kershaw re-creates the ten critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe s Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history. Powerfully argued . important . this book actually alters our perspective of the Second World War Andrew Roberts This fascinating, closely-argued book adds to our understanding of a terrible war Alan Massie A compelling re-examination of the conflict . Kershaw displays here those same qualities of scholarly rigour, careful argument and sound judgement that he brought to bear so successfully in his life of Hitler Richard Overy A splendidly lucid and impeccably argued exposition of the greatest political decisions of the Second World War Max Hastings How fortunate that it is Ian Kershaw bringing his immense knowledge and clarity of thought to the task . brilliantly explained . an immensely wise book Anthony Beevor Ian Kershaw (b. 1943) was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield from 1989-2008, and is one of the world s leading authorities on Hitler. His books include The Hitler Myth , his two volume biography Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, and Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941. He was knighted in 2002. Bookseller Inventory # APG9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.63
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Softcover Quantity Available: 3
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, Limited (UK), 2008. Book Condition: New. 2008. Paperback. Offers an insight into a series of momentous political decisions that shaped course of Second World War. This title re-creates the ten critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe's Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history. Num Pages: 672 pages, Illustrations, maps. BIC Classification: HBJD; HBWQ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 129 x 30. Weight in Grams: 470. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
15.40
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Softcover Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, Limited (UK). Book Condition: New. 2008. Paperback. Offers an insight into a series of momentous political decisions that shaped course of Second World War. This title re-creates the ten critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe's Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history. Num Pages: 672 pages, Illustrations, maps. BIC Classification: HBJD; HBWQ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 129 x 30. Weight in Grams: 470. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
15.74
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin Books (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, 2008. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # GH9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.83
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.69
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Softcover Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Ria Christie Collections
(Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin, 2008. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # ria9780141014180_rkm

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.24
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.87
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Kershaw, Ian
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Books2Anywhere
(Fairford, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2008. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # GB-9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.70
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 9
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Ian Kershaw
Published by Penguin Books Ltd 2008-02-28, London (2008)
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd 2008-02-28, London, 2008. paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 6
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Ian Kershaw
ISBN 10: 0141014180 ISBN 13: 9780141014180
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0141014180. Bookseller Inventory # ST0141014180

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
19.39
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book