Book Review: Churchill Goes to War: Winston's Wartime Journeys


by Brian Lavery

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007. Pp. 392. Illus., maps, table, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN:1591141036

Churchill Goes to War provides a look at how Winston Churchill's extensive travels helped shape the "Grand Alliance" and thus strategy during World War II.  Although by far the oldest of the three pircinipal Allied leaders, Churchill (born in 1874), did the most traveling in the course of the war, since Roosevelt (1882) suffered under great physical limitations and Stalin (1878) from extreme paranoia. 

The book covers all of Churchill's major overseas trips, notably those that involved conferences with his "Big Three" partners, but also many of other journeys, during which he visited the various fronts to discuss the war with his commanders, repeatedly going to the Middle East, or to negotiate with political leaders from such diverse countries as France, Greece, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia.  The trips began while he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and if anything became more frequent after he became Prime Minister -- in his first weeks as PM he several times flew across the Channel to bolster French resistance during the Battle for France -- and continued right through to the end of the war, with the Potsdam Conference.

As he discusses these journeys, Lavery not only shows us how they helped in the development of the Allied war effort, but also provides a look at the complex arrangements required for most of the missions, some of which were quite dangerous, such as his flights to Paris during the Battle for France or to the Middle East.  In the process, Lavery also gives us frequent useful insights into the personalities, behavior, and motivations of numerous notable characters, often with highly amusing anecdotes. 

A good book for anyone interested in World War II or in the making of grand strategy.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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