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How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the…
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How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War (1989)

by Donald Cameron Watt

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What a sad tale of human failure. This comprehensive--almost obsessively detailed--history of the year preceding the outbreak of the war, is told from a diplomatic perspective, and spares no one. The strategic blindness of the British leadership; the cowardice, indecisiveness, and sheer incompetence of the French; the false bravado of the Italians; the impotence of FDR (and the stupidity and negativism of the Congressional isolationsts); the in-fighting and savagery demonstrated by the Japanese; the monstrosity of Stalin. Only Hitler survives as a psychotic convinced of his Godly mission to strengthen and expand Germany and to exact his terrible toll on humanity; however, on the German side, one is repelled both at the pomposity and evil of Ribbentrop, the double-dealing of Goering, the suspension of the Prussian military tradition and idealism as the Army is taken over by committed and amoral Nazis. Then there are the Poles, who actually believed they could win a battle with Germany and structured their diplomacy after this fallacy: what planet were they living on? Then there are the Hungaraians (not a pretty picture), and the Roumanians, desperate to avoid dismemberment, and the Yugoslavs, barely a country. The Treaty of Versailles becomes one of the the living characters, and is portrayed as the beginning of the catastrophic errors in diplomatic judgment which typified the year under study. One learns something new on almost every page, as the reader is taken into the embassies and seats of government as a fly on the wall. The author writes in a dense, academic style, rather than with dramatic flair (probably preserving the spirit of diplomatic messages). For anyone interested in World War II history, this work would seem essential. Although be warned: with the hindsight of history, the flaws of every major player are stark and overwhelming. ( )
  neddludd | Nov 26, 2011 |
3338. How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938-1939, by Donald Cameron Watt (read Aug. 24, 2000) This is a 1989 book and covers in great detail the time after Munich till the war began. I lived thru that time with great awareness for what was going on, but after all I was only 10 and I thought it might be well to check my vivid memory against scholarly research made with the benefit of things not known at the time. The author has the usual English slant to what he says, and does not hesitate to express his opinions, some of which I did not agree with. But it is a good book and his account of the famous event on Sept 2, 1939, when the cry was made in the House of Commons: "Speak for England" is itself in its context worth the time spent reading a well-done book about a superinteresting time. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 28, 2007 |
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Panoramic in scope, flawless in presentation, this book is a monument of international history. Having amassed all that is known of the kaleidoscopic blunders, deceptions and fateful games of secret intelligence, Donald Watt cogently explains how Europe's leaders were influenced and misled by Hitler's demonic drive for power. Here, fascinatingly arranged for the general reader, are the reasons for a multicausal war that reshaped the world.

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