Leo McKinstry

Challenging the Reich

The War in the West: Volume I – Germany Ascendant 1939–1941

By James Holland

Bantam Press 692pp £25 order from our bookshop

In January 1941 Winston Churchill entertained Harry Hopkins, the American presidential adviser, to dinner at Chequers. During the course of the evening, the prime minister launched into one of his flowing monologues about the nobility of Britain’s war aims, emphasising the need to uphold liberty and democracy. ‘We seek only the right of man to be free,’ said Churchill, before asking Hopkins what Roosevelt would think of his statement. Hopkins replied that the president would not ‘give a damn for all that … You see, we’re only interested in seeing that that Goddam sonofabitch Hitler gets licked.’

At the time of that exchange,

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