The Duel: 10 May-31 July, 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill And Hitler

In This Review

The Duel: 10 May-31 July, 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill And Hitler

By John Lukacs
Ticknor & Fields, 1991
258 pp. $19.95
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A most extraordinary work: a dramatic analysis of the 80 days when Churchill and Hitler faced each other; for Churchill and the civilization he saw threatened, the most terrifying moment. The book fastens on the two men, their characters, their perceptions, their decisions; in the retelling, there are important new details as well as new interpretations of familiar facts. An unusually nuanced portrait of Hitler, emphasizing his hopes that England would accept a compromise peace, that the old appeasers and "realists" would replace Churchill-and Churchill did have to contend with such people. A memorable portrait of the two leaders and a triumphant vindication of history as narrative and scholarship. Lukacs, a seasoned and ever-independent historian, with literary flair and psychological acumen, quotes and exemplifies Pascal's assertion: "We understand more than we know."

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