The Churchill Documents, Volume 15: Never Surrender, May 1940 – December 1940

The letters and documents reproduced in this volume were written during the first eight months of Churchill’s premiership, during which time he surmounted more crises than many leaders face in an entire career: a fast-disintegrating ground war in Europe as the German blitzkreig overran the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and drove the British Army to retreat and evacuation at Dunkirk; the consolidation of German occupation in Norway and Denmark; an ongoing state of emergency at home as Britain struggled to modernize its army, navy and air forces at breakneck speed; and the pivotal weeks of the Battle of Britain – the “finest hour” when Britain stood fast against the unremitting onslaught of the German Luftwaffe.

Book Excerpt:

30 May 1940, John Martin to his wife, from the Martin papers:

“The PM's confidence and energy are amazing. 'Nobody left his presence without feeling a braver man' was said of Pitt: but it is no less true of him.”

What the author says

“The documents assembled in this volume show many aspects of Churchill's war leadership that are
often overlooked. His vigilant personal involvement in the day-to-day problems of invasion was
continuous. Then, too, there was his concern for adequate air raid shelters, and his search for
financial compensation for those who had lost their homes in the bombing.”

What the press say

“The indefatigable Gilbert, Winston Churchill's official biographer, continues his engrossing
compilation of documents, official and private, chronicling Churchill's progress through the war
years. This volume begins as Churchill becomes Prime Minister. Through contemporary letters
and memos, speeches (including all of Churchill's Cabinet minutes), and diary excerpts, he brings
vividly to life the dark days of the Battle of Britain in 1940. Defeat seemed near at hand, and
German-invasion was an ever-present threat. We see Churchill firmly taking the helm,
micromanaging as he imposes his will and eloquent as he rallies his nation, but confiding, 'I cannot
say that I enjoy being Prime Minister very much so far.' ” Library Journal

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  • Maps: 11
  • Formats: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0916308339