Turning Points: A historian examines crucial decisions made during the Second World War

From The Washington Post:

Hit World War II made for great myths and great mythmakers. Consider this one, from Winston Churchill: “Future generations may deem it noteworthy that the supreme question of whether we should fight on alone never found a place upon the War Cabinet agenda.”

In fact, from May 25 to 28, 1940, while the entire British Expeditionary Force was threatened with destruction at Dunkirk, Churchill and his war cabinet engaged in an intense debate over whether to seek detente by approaching Adolf Hitler through Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Would a negotiated end to the war be possible? The foreign minister, Lord Halifax, forcefully advocated exploring the possibilities; Churchill passionately argued to the contrary and won, with crucial support from Neville Chamberlain, not often associated with such steadfastness. Even then, the war cabinet “did not rule out the possibility of an approach to Mussolini ‘at some time,’ though it explicitly did so in the current situation,” writes Ian Kershaw in Fateful Choices, his ambitious history of the war’s most important decisions. “It is not easy to imagine, in the light of later events, how insecure Churchill’s position was in the middle of May 1940. His hold on authority, soon to become unchallengeable, was still tenuous.”

More here.