Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941
The history of the Second World War, with its horrible twists and turns, is so well known that the major events and their outcomes have taken on a sort of inevitability. It has become, in effect, a tragedy with each leader and each country playing an assigned part. Ian Kershaw's extraordinarily thought-provoking and gripping new book, Fateful Choices, demolishes any such sense of inevitability. He examines closely eleven episodes at the heart of the War where there was an immense range of options open to planners and decision-makers. From declarations of war down to operational priorities, choices were made that could have resulted in an almost unrecognisably different conflict. Other viewpoints were passionately and articulately argued by powerful, ruthless advocates. In no case was the decision that prevailed to any degree foreordained. Kershaw, not least through his immense work on the career of Adolf Hitler, has spent many years thinking about the contingent nature of history. Fateful Choices dramatizes brilliantly and distressingly events that between them could have resulted in disaster or victory - either for the Allies or for the Axis.