With his incredible historical novel, Never Surrender: A Novel of Winston Churchill, Michael Dobbs plunges readers into the mind, thoughts, feelings, and actions of Winston Churchill when he was appointed Prime Minister of England in the early days of World War II. As Dobbs wisely remarks in his Acknowledgments, “Even those histories that are constructed as tightly as possible around ‘the facts’ still leave room for the sort of speculation about motives and emotions that are such an important component in trying to understand not only what happened, but why something happened.”
Dobb’s narration begins when we learn about the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that was sent over to France preparing for and expecting a war just like World War I, a steady, solid, stay-where-you-were war. One that was fought behind tank trenches and pillboxes they had spent months building in France.
Neville Chamberlain has just resigned and three men gather together to discuss the appointment of Winston Churchill as the new Prime Minister.
The three were Henry Channon, known as Mr. Chips, who was the parliamentary aide, Jack Colville, private secretary to Neville Chamberlain, and “Rab” Butler, the second-most senior Minister in the Foreign Office, who was considered a future leader.
For Colville and the others, although Churchill had a vast experience of war, there was nothing to be gained either from war or from Churchill. And Colville further reminds his colleagues, “The fate of our country has been placed in the hands of the greatest political adventurer of modern times. A half-breed American whose entire life has been littered with failures for which other people paid.” All agreed that they should let Winston have his day dabbling at war and when he fails, as he always has, the country will come to these three to save it. And who will replace him, perhaps Chamberlain and if not him, Halifax.
While this is transpiring, Churchill meets with his long time friend and loyal supporter, Brendan Bracken, Minister of Information. As he ponders over the circumstances he now finds himself in, he mentions to Bracken that it was not success that brought him here, only the monumental failures of others. When questioned as to whom will form the War Cabinet, Churchill affirms that it will consist of some surprises, notably Messrs. Atlee and Greenwood of the Labour Party, Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain. To this, Bracken retorts, “you can’t be serious- they’re the four most bloody-minded men in the country. Two socialists with whom you’ve got nothing in common, the former Prime Minister, who’s devoted most of his limited talents to keep you at the outer edge of the universe, and…Edward Halifax, Churchill’s chief rival for the post.” However, Churchill, who certainly was no fool and a very shrewd politician, defends his choices by stating that if he is to build a national government he must include such men even though he may not be able to trust their loyalty-prophetic statements that eventually prove him right.
Dobbs vividly and richly reconstructs Churchill as he blends fact with fiction during these early tumultuous days in office with no one to guide him through his despair and his battle against appeasement towards Hitler and his henchmen. And although Churchill may have been skillful with brave and magnificent words that stirred the hearts of his countrymen, he was left with nothing but his own depressive thoughts. It was these thoughts that would often carry him to the haunting portrait of his father Lord Randolph that hung in a corner of his office and to whom Churchill would often turn to secure approval. It should be pointed out that Dobbs mentions in the beginning of his novel that one of the most inspiring articles written by Churchill and one that was only discovered after his death, was entitled “The Dream.” Apparently, it concerns a conversation with his father’s ghost, which he conducted while he was painting an oil painting of his father that had been damaged during the war.
Entwined with Churchill’s story is the voice of a conscientious objector who was rejected by his father as being a coward even though he bravely participated in the war as a medic and experienced some horrific scenes. Dobbs also inserts the fictional character of Ruth Mueller who was a German refugee who sought safety in Britain in 1938 and to whom Churchill turns to for advice concerning Hitler’s psyche. Not to be left out is the frosty relationship between Churchill and Roosevelt as well and the treachery of Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. father of the future President of the USA, who was briefly the US Ambassador to England at the start of World War II and whose career abruptly came to an end during the height of the Battle of Britain in 1940 with the publishing of his disastrous remarks that “Democracy is finished.”
Michael Dobbs’ credentials and research skills are impeccable. He has written fifteen novels and has been an academic, a broadcaster, a senior corporate executive, and an adviser to Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
Click Here to Read Norm's Interview With Michael Dobbs
The above review was contributed by: The Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com,Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L,Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
Churchill’s Triumph: A Novel Of Betrayal
Click Here To Purchase Churchill's Triumph A Novel Of Betrayal Author: Michael DobbsISBN: 13: 978-1-4022-1045-7: 10: 1-4022-1045-0 Michael Dobbs in his most recent historical novel, Churchill’s Triumph: A Novel Of Betrayal spins another mesmerizing portrayal of one of the greatest statesman, Winston Churchill who, as we are reminded at the very beginning of the book stated: “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to r