Most helpful positive review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A though-provoking and generally enjoyable read.
on February 17, 2011
I cannot make up my mind if Mr Buchanan is a genius or a crank. After completing my third read of this book I am inclined to think he is just a little of both. Buchanan's thesis, in a nutshell, is that it was the conduct of Britain in 1914 that turned what might have been a localized continental conflict into a world war, and that, in 1939, Britain was responsible for causing Germany to wage war in the West instead of looking just eastward. In developing this thesis, he puts much of the blame for these results in Churchill and argues that the ultimate effect of his influence was the demise of the British Empire. Having read the book more than once, I believe that some of what Buchanan has to say is quite compelling but I am still not yet entirely convinced.
Buchanan is a very lucid writer for the most part (although he does have a tendency to repeat points too often) but I also found some shortcomings in the book which gave me pause. First, he emphasizes, many times throughout the book, that the result of certain geopolitical actions was the subjugation or oppression of Christians (eg. the domination of the Polish first by the Germans and then the Russians). Is he suggesting that the brutal subjugation of a people is more tragic if they happen to be Christian as opposed to, say, Hindu? I am not sure what point he is trying to make with these constant references, but they certainly suggest that the author has issues which are affecting his objectivity.
I also found that when Buchanan discusses how Britain lost its Empire that he does so with wistful a sense of loss as though saying that, if Britain had acted less stupidly, the good old Empire would still be alive and kicking and wouldn't that be great? I think most people would agree that the Colonialism of the Empire is something best left to history and that Britain's present place on the world's stage is pretty much as it should be and was largely inevitable however it came about. I think Buchanan may well be right about how the demise was triggered but his opinions as to the 'rightness' of this are, I think, a bit off base. Ultimately, I am still pondering what the author has to say and will re-read the book a fourth and maybe a fifth time. I think that that, in itself, is accolade enough for a book and I recommend that others with a general interest in the issues take a look at what Buchanan has to say.