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Book Reviews

Edited by Celia Lee and Paul Edward Strong

Major Imogen Corrigan writes:
It should not be construed that women were immediately involved in manning searchlights during the Second World War (1939-45). In fact this was not to happen until the Prime Minister Winston Churchill's approval was gained in September 1941.1 Men were increasingly needed for deployment elsewhere so the options were either to reduce the number of lights, a measure General Sir Frederick Pile (General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Anti-Aircraft Command 1939-1945) considered irresponsible beyond belief, or to consider employing women already serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). By using the ATS and Home Guard it was estimated that 71,000 Regular Gunners could be used on other duties. Inevitably there was anxiety about how the ATS girls would cope, often miles from anywhere on bleak sites with potentially dangerous work to do. In fact these fears proved groundless as General Pile noted: 'They showed themselves more effective, more horror-inspiring and more blood-thirsty with their pick-helves than many a male sentry with his gun, as several luckless gentlemen found to their cost.'2

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Richard M. Langworth

Editor, Finest Hour
Issue 139, Summer 2008.

Buchanan BookIn this issue we do something we’ve never done before. We move “Books, Arts & Curiosities” to the “front of the book.” This is not to give undue attention to Nicholson Baker’s and Pat Buchanan’s simultaneous attack-books, but to equip our readers with facts that support Churchill’s honor, judgment and good name—and to demonstrate how easily history may be bent.

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Mr. Roberts is an historian whose most recent book is A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 (FH 134). This article is derived by the author from reviews in The New Criterion and The Evening Standard .

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David Freeman

Buchanan BookProfessor Freeman teaches history at California State University, Fullerton.

Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, by Patrick J. Buchanan. New York, Crown, 518 pp., $29.95.

Although there is no indication in this book that Pat Buchanan is familiar with the work of the late Harry Elmer Barnes,1 he has nevertheless arrived at many of the same arguments that Barnes first pressed more than fifty years ago. His book is, then, the latest entry in the revisionist canon, recycling old arguments, and using time-worn tactics so familiar that The Churchill Centre long ago added a website section devoted to “Leading Churchill Myths”.

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Churchill, The Greatest Briton Unmasked, by Nigel Knight.

David & Charles, 400 pp., $23.80.

Review by Michael McMenamin

Damning with No PraiseI think it was Carlyle who wrote that “No book that will not improve by repeated readings deserves to be read at all.” That pretty much sums up Nigel Knight’s new book on Churchill. If you want to read a book on Churchill that is unreservedly negative on almost all aspects of his career, pick up Clive Ponting’s biography instead. Or even David Irving’s. Really. You’ll thank me for it.

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Warren F. Kimball

Professor Kimball, Treat Professor of History at Rutgers University, has written extensively on Roosevelt and Churchill and is editor of three volumes of their correspondence.

Human SmokeHuman Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, by Nicholson Baker. Simon & Schuster, 576 pp, $25.

OK. I have forced myself to sit down and write a review of the non-book. What is it? Why is it so difficult to review? I finally realized that it is not possible critically to review a mantra: an unthinking chant, like prayer wheels, rosaries and worry beads. Monotonous repetition may be an effective appeal, but it is an appeal to emotion, not reason. It is not history.

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Reviewed by Sir Compton MacKenzie.

Longmans, Green & Co., New York (First Edition),London & Bombay, 1900

 First published in Churchill By His Contemporaries in 1953
 and reprinted in Finest Hour 38, Winter 1982-83  

    When Churchill found time to write a novel of some 70,000 words between Malakand and The River War, which would be a surprising statement about almost anybody except Churchill, he was in his 24th year. Savrola offers an opportunity to pry into the dreams of a young man of destiny, not merely about his own political future but also that of dictators.

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