January 20, 2014

How Churchill came to power

Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save EnglandTroublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England by Lynne Olson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a good introduction to the appeasement days in late 1930s Britain. It spells out how backbencher anti-appeasement Tories gradually accumulated the numbers to indirectly force the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.

I said indirectly. I had for whatever reason thought Chamberlain lost the no-confidence vote shortly after the invasion of France. Not true; he won, but by narrow enough margin that, after vacillating, and even dreaming of scheming, he decided to step down.

On the biographical side, Chamberlain comes off as an unconstitutional autocrat domestically, even more than a dithering appeaser. Eden is portrayed as someone rightly abandoned by the rebels as the man to replace Chamberlain. Churchill is shown as too blindly loyal to Chamberlain in some ways, especially in the days between the no-confidence vote and his resignation.

The one big name from all of this to actually go up, if you will, is Macmillan.

Also, as an American wishing we had a parliamentary system here, seeing it at work in daily detail, both its good and bad sides, at a period of ongoing stress, is another reason I found this a good read.



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