cover image Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940

Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940

Norman Moss / Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $27.5 (41

Moss (Klaus Fuchs: The Man Who Stole the Atom Bomb) recounts here the spring and summer of 1940, when Germany conquered France, Belgium and Holland, and Britain stood alone. He describes the three men (Hitler, Roosevelt and Churchill) on whose""decisions, predilections, viewpoints, and even personalities"" strategies and campaigns were based; the attitudes of the British and American people at the time; and the way that U.S. intervention paved the way for the British Empire's decline. How the U.S. perceived the German advance and early events on the battlefield are particularly well described, augmented by the inclusion of the diplomatic and political negotiations and decisions that shaped the course of WWII. The British evacuation from Dunkirk raised morale, but when (after a remarkable proposal that France and Britain unite) Paris fell and France surrendered in mid-June, Britain prepared for possible invasion. Moss cuts back and forth between nations, fronts and pivotal events with ease, showing the American domestic scene in summer 1940 (including a pro-German movement) and preparations for presidential election in November; meanwhile the British acquired a German Enigma coding machine after attacking the French fleet at Dakar. Churchill's popularity in the U.S. rose sharply after the Blitz of London began, followed by the U.S. transfer of arms to Britain, while the climatic air battle of September 15 was decisive defeat for the Luftwaffe but made the possibility of German invasion ever more real. Moss concentrates on the United States and Great Britain, emphasizing the big picture; material from individual soldiers and civilians and discussions of generals and politicians are also included throughout. This is an accurate, large-scale history of a short time frame, presented in an eminently readable style.