Five Days in London, May 1940 by John Lukacs: 5*****

Five Days in London, May 1940

John Lukacs, a name few are familiar with, nonetheless this author/historian has written over 30 books, and has taught at numerous colleges throughout the world. Born in Budapest, Lukacs suffered through much of the anguish that enveloped his home country during WW2 before he was able to make his way to the US. A believer in liberal democracy and an avowed anti-Communist, Lukacs was critical of Joseph McCarthy. He is a believer that aristocratic elites have been replaced by democratic elites who appeal to the masses for their support. He also felt that the rise of populism and the decline of the elite has taken us from a gentlemanly society to one of vulgarism! He believed that Churchill was the most important politician of our age and reminds all that after France had fallen in WW2 that Britain had to go it alone in WW2 until FDR finally agreed to enter the war. A compulsive writer and reader, Lukacs had over 18,000 volumes in his personal library at the time of his death.

Wow! What a remarkable book that takes a true “inside” look at Churchill and his War Cabinet during the most crucial days of WW2. This is part of a group of books the author has written which examine WW2 and Churchill and despite its short length it provides so much insight as to how Churchill was able to turn the political tides in the UK and his War Cabinet at the time of the disastrous defeat and retreat from Dunkirk of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Taken from official British documents that had only been released prior to writing this book, as well as secret public opinion polls that were conducted daily, and a multitude of public and private diaries, Lukacs is able to give us a glimpse of both the politics and the general publics impressions on the course of the war. After he replaced Neville Chamberlain, Churchill kept him in the War Cabinet and he became an ally of Winston, he also appreciated Churchill allowing him to remain living at 10 Downing Street even though he was no longer the Prime Minister. Also you discover how Lord Halifax and Churchill butted heads over policy and how Halifax was ready to accept peace offers from Hitler while the fighting still raged in France. Eventually Churchill prevailed and the naval retreat from Dunkirk was a success. During this entire time the British public was kept in the dark about the BEF, how poorly the French were fighting on their home soil and the state of the evacuation/retreat. Truly a remarkable work of research and a great addition to any library on WW2. The author ends the book with some very good observations on the state of democracy and a prediction of a new dark age that would be coming to darken the lives of our children and grandchildren. Just a superb read!

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