How War Came

Donald Cameron Watt, Author Pantheon Books $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-394-57916-0
Watt closely examines the political and diplomatic atmosphere during the pivotal 11-month prewar period that included the signing of the Munich agreement, German occupation of the Sudentenland, the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, the invasion of Poland and the British declaration of war. At the core of this fast-moving narrative is a reconstruction of increasingly tense conferences held by Hitler and his foreign minister Ribbentrop with a stream of statesmen ``suitors'' hoping to prevent or at least delay the Nazi leader's aggressive designs on neighboring countries. Suitors included Britain's Chamberlain, France's Edouard Daladier, Italy's Galeazzo Ciano, the Soviet Union's Molotov. Watt, a professor of international history at the London School of Economics, also examines the efforts of Mussolini to fathom Hitler's intentions, the Vatican's efforts to keep Italy neutral, and President Roosevelt's problems reconciling intervention with American neutrality. The involvement of the smaller European states in the overall effort to turn Hitler aside from his inexorable course is also analyzed. Watt's majestic work concludes with Prime Minister Chamberlain's invitation to the politically eclipsed Churchill to join the war cabinet, and the flash-message that flew through the halls of government: Winston is back. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-679-73093-4
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