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Finest Hour 159

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Churchill Proceedings – King, Canada and the Iron Curtain Speech

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 60

By Philip White

When Hitler fatefully turned on Russia in the summer of 1941, Churchill embraced the necessity of accepting Stalin as an ally. In the end, this uneasy bargain helped turn the tide against the Axis powers.

But the world was not rendered free from tyranny. Stalin was already betraying the undertakings he had made at Teheran and Yalta when he, Churchill and Truman met at Potsdam in July 1945.

Churchill believed that if he could spend more time with Stalin he could right those wrongs, but he lost the 1945 election. After a period of gloom, Churchill realized that he still had two potent weapons, his pen and his voice, to warn of a new “Gathering Storm.”

Enter Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who visited Churchill in London on a rainy October 26th, 1945. King had offered unwavering support to Churchill in World War II despite a conscription debacle that had split his nation. They dined on caviar and a snipe, conferring on the lamentable influence of far-left politics, Churchill telling King that Labour would redistribute wealth by “destroying the rich to equalize the incomes of all.”
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Churchill Proceedings – Canada and the Battle of the Atlantic

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 56

By David Boler

29Th International Churchill conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 2012

At the Going down of the Sun, and in the Morning, We Will Remember Them.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the only campaign of World War II that gave Winston Churchill sleepless nights. As he said at the great moment of crisis in June 1940: “Without victory there is no survival.”

The Battle began on 3 September 1939 and lasted 2074 days until 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered. The heroes on both sides were the men, the heroines were the ships, and the enemy was the sea: the cruel sea.

Canada’s contribution to the Atlantic battle was inextricably linked to that of Britain’s Royal Navy. Victory in the Atlantic would not win the war for the Allies—but losing it most certainly would have lost the war in Europe.

Both Germany and Britain made strategic mistakes in the 1930s which affected the Atlantic battle. Germany gave priority to building battleships, but would eventually have to turn to the U-boat as its main weapon to starve Britain into surrender. For the Allies, the tide did not turn until they recognized the importance of aircraft in fighting U-boats. Early on, they had placed too much confidence in ASDIC (Allied Submarine Detector Investigation Committee) or, as the Americans knew it SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging).
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – The Private Enterprise Empire

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 54

By Andrew Roberts

Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain, by John Darwin. Bloomsbury, hardbound, illus., $35, member price $28.

Such has been the tenacity of the Marxist interpretation of history that twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, books are still being published to explain phenomena like the British Empire in terms of dialectal materialism, bourgeois exploitation of the proletariat, and so on. How refreshing it is, therefore, when as distinguished an historian as John Darwin of Nuffield College, Oxford, writes something as thoughtful, well-researched and persuasive as Unfinished Empire, which explains the half-millennium-long explosion of Britain across the globe in terms that genuinely make sense.

Of course Darwin doesn’t for a moment deny the vital importance of the capitalist ethic in the process, readily acknowledging how the British Empire “was a largely private enterprise empire; the creation of merchants, investors, migrants and missionaries and many others.” Yet there’s no tone of sneering negativity. Indeed in examining the apogee of the Empire, which he puts from the 1830s to 1940, he argues that the British succeeded “because they exploited the opportunities of global connectedness more fully than their rivals.” The exploitation was of global connectedness, not subject peoples.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Mr. King and the Prime Minister

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 53

By John G. Plumpton

Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King: So Similar, So Different, by Terry Reardon. A.J. Patrick Boyer, hardbound, illus., 432 pp., $35.

Canadians are justifiably proud of their role in the great wars of the 20th century. Their contributions went beyond the “call of duty.” But what was their duty?

In 1914 it was clear that Britain’s declaration of war included Canada. Constitutional changes in the interwar years altered that, but most Canadian historians argue that Canada still went to war because Britain was at war.

Terry Reardon concludes that in 1939, Canada declared war by the decision by one man, Prime Minister Mackenzie King. Although King is the Commonwealth’s longest-serving prime minister, he is unknown outside—and even sometimes inside—Canada.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Chameleons and Crossroads

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 52

By Erica L. Chenoweth

Yalta 1945: Europe and America at the Crossroads, by Fraser J. Harbutt, Cambridge University Press, hardbound, illus., 468 pp., $42.

The Yalta Conference of February 1945, laden with secret dealings viewed as “the foundational sin of the postwar era” (9), is given a make-over by diplomatic historian Fraser Harbutt, who believes that “Yalta has been hopelessly misunderstood,” a symbol “chameleonic in every sense except its fixation on Roosevelt’s performance”

(13). Harbutt’s unique work pays tribute to a “more enduring aspect of diplomacy where one looks to find logic and patterns rather than emotion and improvisation,” while also looking to serve as corrective to the “Americocentrism” pervading the historical record (xii).

Harbutt reframes Allied relations during WW2 from “East-West,” with Stalin as the outside man, to “Europe-America,” with Roosevelt and his administration decidedly on the fringes. “The war,” he writes, “was steadily integrating the United States and Europe,” but politically “they remained two distinct arenas” (74). Harbutt alternates easily between a narrative style informed by meticulous research and a style more strictly selective and analytical. He encourages the examination of events and circumstances in relation to each other but also to a deeper, underlying historical process. His body of work is informed by the “notion of recurrence within very slowly changing historical patterns” (xiv).
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Young Titan: Two Observations

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 52

Richard Marsh (“Churchill and Flandin,” FH 158: 22) sent Dr. Shelden and us a letter in his collection from Churchill to H.H. Asquith dated 14 August 1908, which is relevant to the alleged romance between Violet Asquith and Churchill.

WSC begins by thanking Asquith for his congratulations on his engagement: “I was sure that as an old friend of my father’s & a kind one to me you would rejoice in my great happiness & good fortune, which has broken upon me with such sudden wonder.” The letter then clearly reveals that Clementine as well as Winston had been invited to Slains Castle by the Asquiths: “Clementine has to buy all sorts of important things, so that she cannot accept your pleasant invitation. But I will keep my tryst & propose to travel North by the night train of Tuesday.”

Mr. Marsh writes: “It is interesting that Churchill used the word ‘tryst’ in describing his upcoming visit, although I am sure that he was not describing a meeting of lovers. Churchill ends interestingly: “Please thank Mrs. Asquith & Miss Violet for including themselves as I am sure they did in your congratulations.”
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 51

Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill, by Michael Shelden. Simon & Schuster, hardbound, illus., 384 pp., $30, member price $24.

The first fifteen years of the 20th century are the focus in this new study of well-trodden ground. Starting with Churchill’s initial election to Parliament, and ending with the bitter aftermath of Gallipoli, the author examines the public politician and private man during his formative political years.

Seasoned readers know of numerous studies of Churchill’s pre-1916 career, notably four “partial lives.” Peter de Mendelssohn’s The Age of Churchill: Heritage and Adventure, 1874-1911 (1961) took the story to Churchill’s arrival at the Admiralty, the only volume of an intended trilogy. Violet Bonham Carter’s Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait (1966) covers 1906-16, as seen by a prime minister’s daughter, who knew her subject well (and is a major figure in Shelden’s account). Ted Morgan’s Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry, 1874-1915 (1982) offers a well-written and -documented work. The Earl of Birkenhead’s Churchill 1874-1922 (1989) is based on the memories of Churchill’s godson.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Old Tales Retold

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 50

By Christopher H. Sterling

The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler, by David L. Roll. Oxford University Press, hardbound, illus., 510 pp., $34.95, member price $27.95.

Harry Hopkins has faded from the public memory over the years, but during World War II he was never far from Roosevelt’s side in Washington or abroad, unless he was on a long and arduous trip, carrying messages on the president’s behalf, often to Winston Churchill, who dubbed him “Lord Root of the Matter” for his direct style of discussion. Hopkins was always in the news and attracted plenty of negative political and press comment from those seeking to attack the president or his policy positions.

Self-effacing to a fault, Hopkins (1890-1946) was probably FDR’s closest confidant from 1940 to early 1945. Before that he’d served briefly as Secretary of Commerce, and more importantly as head of the massive Works Progress Administration (WPA), the signature recovery agency of Roosevelt’s New Deal. But this book’s focus is on the war which occupied the final years of both men’s lives: they died within months of one another.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Rethinking Your Assumptions

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 49

By Richard M. Langworth

Churchill and Company, by David Dilks. I.B. Tauris, hardbound, illus., $35, member price $28.

A Swiss student, Cindy Kläy, recently asked: “According to what I have read, Chamberlain seemed -to hope World War II could be avoided, while Churchill thought war was unavoidable. Who was right? With access to all the history, it is easy to say that war could not have been avoided. But was that so obvious in the 1930s?”

That is a very incisive question. To answer it I referred Miss Kläy to the final chapter of Churchill and Company: “‘Historians are Dangerous’: Churchill, Chamberlain and Some Others.” What may we judge from this? Perhaps that until 1937, Chamberlain and Churchill both hoped or thought war might be avoided—but pursued their hopes differently.

Chamberlain, prudent and pragmatic, thought first that Germany’s grievances could be met short of war. Churchill, equally pragmatic, thought addressing those grievances must be preceded by collective security and major rearmament. Both were frustrated in their hopes, for different reasons. Chamberlain was blamed for Appeasement, which Britons supported through 1938. Yet Britain was rearming under Chamberlain, and even Baldwin. If she were not, there would have not been enough aircraft to win the Battle of Britain in 1940. The question about rearmament was one of degree.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – The Last of The Last Lion

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 46

By Warren F. Kimball

A Nice Cruise Down A Lengthy River You’ve sailed Before

The Last Lion, vol. 3, Defender of the Realm 1940-1965, by Paul Reid and William Manchester. Little Brown, hardbound, illus., 1232 pages, $40, member price $32.

Literature’s long-standing, obsessive self-absorption by authors has crept into the book review game. Few reviewers seem able to write a review of this book without resorting to the first person singular: I knew the author personally, watched him suffer from writer’s block; tried to help, etc., etc., ad nauseam. An egregious example was Deborah Baker’s review in the Wall Street Journal, barely ten percent of which was about the book. The rest was a memoir of her personal relationship with “Bill” Manchester.

Why should Manchester matter? He wrote two volumes on Churchill; then, over a longue durée, he compiled frightfully disorganized notes in preparation for the third and final volume, then sadly died. Why depend on his outdated notes and inadequate research, or follow his arrogant injunctions against so-called academic histories? What Paul Reid has written is his book, whatever the rampant rumors of restrictions by the Manchester estate.
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Action This Day – Summer 1888, 1913, 1938, 1963

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 44

By Michael McMenamin


Summer 1888 • Age 13

“Phenomenal Slovenliness”

Winston’s early enthusiasm for Harrow was not reciprocated by the school. While he was allowed to return home for a visit in mid-July, his housemaster, Henry Davidson, wrote to his mother that “[H]e has not deserved it. I do not think, nor does Mr. Somerville, that he is in any way willfully troublesome; but his forgetfulness, carelessness, unpunctuality, and irregularity in every way have really been so serious, that I write to ask you, when he is at home to speak very gravely to him on the subject.”

Davidson gave examples: the boy was “constantly late for school” and frequently “losing his books and papers.” What frustrated Davidson about young Churchill was that “as far as ability goes he ought to be at the top of his form, whereas he is at the bottom. Yet I do not think he is idle; only his energy is fitful, and when he gets to his work it is generally too late for him to do it well.…I do think it very serious that he should have acquired such phenomenal slovenliness.…He is a remarkable boy in many ways, and it would be a thousand pities if such good abilities were made useless by habitual negligence.”
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ARTICLE ABSTRACTS – Inside the Journals: The Soviets and Japan

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 43

By Antoine Capet

“‘A Long, Slow and Painful Road’: The Anglo-American Alliance and the Issue of Cooperation with the USSR from Teheran to D-Day,” by Martin H. Folly, Diplomacy & Statecraft 23:3, 2012, 471-92.

The Anglo–American alliance during World War II became less cohesive on the political side than the military. By 1944 there were widening divergences between Britain and the U.S. over how to cooperate with the Soviets. Though they shared assumptions about the motivations of Soviet goals, British and American policymakers not only formulated different approaches, they consistently viewed theirs as more successful than those of their ally. There was an opportunity to coordinate policies during the visit to London of American Undersecretary of State Edward Stettinius in April 1944; but the issue was barely discussed, which is symptomatic of the situation. The British Foreign Office, with the backing of Winston Churchill, wished to forge ahead with pragmatic arrangements with the Russians. Self-satisfaction with their own efforts on both sides meant that the British and American bureaucracies made no serious and sustained attempts to unify their outlook on the Soviets, in contrast to the closeness of cooperation in other areas.


“‘Winston Has Gone Mad’: Churchill, the British Admiralty and the Rise of Japanese Naval Power,” by John H. Maurer, Journal of Strategic Studies 35:6, 2012, 775-97.
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Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 42

By Richard M. Langworth

Many readers say they like to read our rebuttals to ignorance, bias, nonsense and exaggeration in the media. This is an amusing part of our work, and a lot goes on that you never see, for we don’t want to bore you with it. However, with some hesitation, we offer the following for your amusement or forgiveness.

“Redeeming Racism: Forgiving Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson” by Dr. Suyneel Dhand, International Business Times, 11 December 2012

Dear Editor:

Dr. Dhand should be less smug and gratuitous in forgiving Churchill’s “racism,” since his understanding is superficial and his accusations smack of what William Manchester called “generational chauvinism.”

Churchill for his time was not a racist, although he could say startling things about Asians and Africans on occasion. His oft-quoted remark, “I hate Indians,” in response to disputatious bureaucracy in Delhi in the midst of a battle for survival, was ably described by one of our speakers: “I have no doubt that the famous gleam came to his eyes when he said this, with mischievous glee—an offense, in modern convention, of genocidal magnitude.”
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HISTORY DETECTIVES – No, He Never Made It to Eleuthera

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 41

In “FDR’s and WSC’s Bahamian Ramblings” (FH 145: 18), we speculated on whether Churchill ever visited Eleuthera, the long, crescent-shaped island fifty miles east of Nassau that serves as FH’s winter office.

The answer—much to the disappointment of us island residents—is no.

Readers will recall that we were informed of a photograph of Sir Winston and Lord Beaverbrook, allegedly snapped at Gun Point, the beautiful ex-Beaverbrook house on the northern tip of Eleuthera; but we were unable to arrange a visit to see the photo itself.

Max Beaverbrook built Gun Point in 1943-44 (not after World War II as earlier reported), supposedly on land presented to him by the Crown in thanks for his role as Minister of Aircraft Production early in the war. Churchill’s opportunities to visit there were limited. The most likely time was 1953, when he was Beaverbrook’s guest in Jamaica and asked about visiting “Barbados.” He could have meant “Bahamas,” a 400-mile flight for Beaverbrook’s private plane—but the Churchill Archives Centre found nothing to indicate that he strayed from Jamaica.
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YOUTHFUL ADVENTURER (5) – From Isolation to Engagement: How Churchill Influenced Foreign Policy in the Years before the Great War

Finest Hour 159, Summer 2013

Page 36

By Christopher H. Beckvold

Historians often examine the climactic years of a great career, leaving the adjoining years relatively unconsidered. Churchill is a good example: while many accounts exist of his role in the two World Wars, his early career is the subject of far fewer books. (For latest, see the review of Young Titan on page 51.)

Churchill’s critics often cite his youthful failures, real or imagined. In fact he enjoyed many accomplishments in his early offices, notably altering British foreign policy without ever holding the post of foreign minister. The full scope of what he accomplished is remarkable for a politician so young.

Long before he came to head the Admiralty, Churchill was aware of Germany’s potential threat to Britain and Europe, but as at other times in his life, he was well ahead of most political thinkers. During the last third of the 19th century, the most constant threat to the British Empire was Russia, against whom Britain had defended Turkey in the Crimean War, and the Indian empire during the Anglo-Afghan Wars. By the 1880s, under both Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and his Liberal counterpart, William Gladstone, concern shifted not to Germany but to Ireland and the Empire.1
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