RAOC War Memorial at Deepcut

RAOC War Memorial at Deepcut
RAOC War Memorial at Deepcut

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Churchill's Hours by Michael Dobbs

The focus of this final part of the trilogy is on the USA before Pearl Harbour. Churchill recognised that the only way Hitler could be defeated was by engaging the power of the United States.
All the time British servicemen were fighting, but it seems without a strategy for victory and with the single objective of hanging on until the USA saw the inevitability of the war engulfing them.
Dobbs tells well the pain and cost in human terms of this hanging on. He draws us toward Churchill so that we can see the war from his perspective. This is not the same as Churchill himself might have written, we don't look through his eyes; our eyes are placed next to his.
How I wish Dobbs would write more.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Never Surrender Michael Dobbs

Those of us born after the end of WWII have no idea just how close we were to losing, especially in the early weeks and months. Michael Dobbs captures this perfectly interweaving the capricious US Ambassador, the too clever politicians and the ordinary men who just got on with the job with the astonishing mix that was Winston Churchill. I found it compelling reading for the subject matter but also for the pace and depth of character which Dobbs gives to his readers.
There is a scene of the greatest possible depth on the beach at Dunkirk where the father of one of the main characters has gone over with one of the little boats; he is a priest who has lost his way. He finds it in the need for spiritual support that shouts out from the thousands of stranded soldiers. It is Sunday and he begins to say prayers and lead hymns at the behest of those around him. 'Can we take Communion' one of them asked. Henry Chichester at first objected that he had no bread or wine, but then hunted round for what there was: cognac and chocolate. He rediscovered his faith by seeing the faith others placed in him.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Winston's War by Michael Dobbs

I came to this book about the run up to the first major engagement in WWII with two TV programmes echoing in my mind: The Wilderness Years by Ferdinand Fairfax and The Gathering Storm by Hugh Whitemore. These excellent films take as read that Churchill is the hero. Michael Dobbs is more circumspect. In his epilogue he offers his own view on the vital role played by Churchill, but his fiction allows the reader to ask the questions that Chamberlain must have asked over and over. Was Churchill a war monger; was there even at the final hour a peaceful alternative? Dobbs takes his reader through the politics. A country with a frail economy and growing unemployment needed peace and trade; it got war. Dobbs allows five or so plots to run side by side, and this allows the reader to see the action from a number of different points of view. The stories are fully written; there is a good deal of content in this book. What is so clever is that, whilst we know how it ends, we cannot see how that end will be reached until very near the end.