Out on 27 June 2019

1939

Frederick Taylor

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27 June 2019
9781509858743
368 pages
Synopsis

In the autumn of 1938, Europe believed in the promise of peace. Still reeling from the ravages of the Great War, its people were desperate to rebuild their lives in a newly safe and stable era. But only a year later, the fateful decisions of just a few men had again led Europe to war, a war that would have a profound and lasting impact on millions of innocent people.

From the bestselling historian Frederick Taylor, 1939: The War No One Wanted draws on original British and German sources, including recorded interviews, as well as contemporary diaries, memoirs and newspapers. Its narrative focuses on the day-to-day experiences of the men and women in both countries trapped in this disastrous chain of events and not, as is so often the case, the elite. Their voices, concerns and experiences lend a uniquely intimate flavour to this often surprising account, revealing a marked disconnect between government and people; few ordinary citizens in either Britain or Germany wanted war.

1939: The War No One Wanted is, precisely for that reason, also an interrogation of our capacity to go to war again. In today’s Europe, an onset of uncertainty, a looming fear of radical populism and a revelatory schism are dangerously reminiscent of the perils of the autumn of 1938. 1939: The War No One Wanted is both a vivid and richly peopled narrative of Europe’s slide into the horrors of war and, in many ways, a warning; an opportunity for us to learn from our history and a reminder that we must never take peace for granted.

Taylor . . . does an excellent job of telling the story of the Coventry raid . . . Taylor's thorough, authoritative account elegantly explains the horrors of that night, as well as the wider story of the raid's significance in the air war's collective descent into barbarism.

Review of Coventry - Financial Times

Riveting . . . vivid . . . Taylor's account of flame and ruin in the Midlands in November 1940, superbly researched, shows how terror could come to anyone, anywhere, any time. It still can.

Review of Coventry - Spectator

Taylor weaves a chilling narrative from eyewitness accounts and documentary research . . . His account of the air operation . . . is quite superb.

Review of Dresden - The Times