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The Phoney Victory

The World War II Illusion
Narrated by: Peter Hitchens
Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Was World War II really the 'Good War'? In the years since the declaration of peace in 1945, many myths have sprung up around the conflict in the victorious nations. In this audiobook, Peter Hitchens deconstructs the many fables which have become associated with the narrative of the 'Good War'. 

Whilst not criticising or doubting the need for war against Nazi Germany at some stage, Hitchens does query whether September 1939 was the right moment or the independence of Poland the right issue. He points out that in the summer of 1939 Britain and France were wholly unprepared for a major European war and that this quickly became apparent in the conflict that ensued. He also rejects the retroactive claim that Britain went to war in 1939 to save the Jewish population of Europe. On the contrary, the beginning and intensification of war made it easier for Germany to begin the policy of mass murder in secret as well as closing most escape routes. 

In a provocative but deeply researched book, Hitchens questions the most common assumptions surrounding World War II, turning on its head the myth of Britain's role in a 'Good War'.

©2018 Peter Hitchens (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

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Couldn't stop listening.

I'll be listening to this several times as I did with 'The Rage Against God.'

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Interesting but depressing story

An controversial look at the Good War that we have romanticized for generations. It certainly has inspired me to do more research on the subject, but I feel that in his dissection of the events leading up to/during the war Hitchens largely ignores the story of King Edward VIII, only making brief mention of him as one of many stabs at the cultural image of Churchill in the West. I also cant recall any mention of Mosley, but his legacy is probably set in stone and not as important as some are lead to believe. My only complaint about the performance is that Hitchens (who reads the book himself) has a bad habit of occasionally loudly whistling through his teeth when saying words that start with “s.” This is jarring and annoying since his voice is appropriately low for most of the book and clashes with the mood. Still, a very good book in both content and performance, worth looking at if you are interested in a look at Britain’s actions by a cultured British author unsympathetic to preserving the myth of Churchill, but not approaching it from an almost strictly anti colonial perspective.

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An amazing commentary and review of WW2

Peter Hitchens offers a different and captivating view of UK, USA and Nazi Germany behavior during WW2 in a way only an independent mind can offer.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-05-19

What annoys Peter Hitchens about WW2

This is not a detailed overview about the myths and misnomers or world war 2. To save you the money it's
1.Britain was unprepared and foolish to rush in to a war with Nazi Germany, I'm not convinced. He does not delve in to the Nazi or French military.
2. The USA screwed the British rather then being faithful allies. Well duh
3. Bombing of German cities by the RAF was immoral, agreed.


Peter Hitchens hasn't seemed to have done a lot of research just read a few books. He is not a historian.
His is a good narrator and is a first c!ass complainer.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Oliver Duncan
  • 02-11-19

Masterpiece

A thoughtful, uncompromising synthesis that is honest, sensitive and respectful in tone, yet unflinchingly confronts the reality of the UKs place in the wider conflict and historical context.

An outstanding book, a must listen.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Gregory F Naylor
  • 05-04-19

Illuminating and thought provoking

A very well written stripping away of the myth and sentimental consensus that WW2 was a 'good' war, fought nobly by the allies. Many long standing heart felt beliefs are debunked, such as the so called special relationship between The U K and the USA and the mistaken notion that the British political establishment were reluctant to go to war in 1939.

Only for those who value truth above sentimental delusion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Laurence S Danvers
  • 04-20-19

The empire's distorted view of itself laid bare

So interesting. Now I understand the American special relationship. Who could imagine this mighty nation defaulting on a loan to The US and being bankrupt?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-05-19

Hitchens at his best

A well written and clever book that pulls apart the spin of ww2 and phoney relationship between the UK and the USA.

Great listening and I shall read to book too!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin Hourigan
  • 08-07-19

A very interesting book

A very interesting book. It give an insight into why today's English people voted for Brexit.

"Poland was a pretext for war, not a reason. And it was a pretext for an essentially irrational, idealistic, nostalgic impulse. We were a Great Power, after all. We had to do our duty and stand up to Germany, even if we had no serious weapons with which to do so. We may even have feared (with some justification) that Germany would never provide us with any excuse to go to war with it."

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-27-19

Top Class - Real History

Put simply, I feel lucky to have spent the last 5 years of my life dedicated to understanding and writing about British Economic and Political history from the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Much of what this book highlights are things that I already know, but have always wished other educated people also knew.

In essence Britain should have never fought WWII, it should have realised at the turn of the century that economic reform was necessary, and should have seen more the threat of the USA in regards to British self interests.

This book does an excellent job of highlighting much of those prior points, more could be done in regards to describing the utter shafting of Britain by the US post Breton Woods, which was only briefly mentioned but arguably is where the real damage was done. However this is beyond the remit of what the book was attempting to highlight, and could easily be discussed in a 1945-1973 publication, maybe entitled The Failed Peace.

Overall well researched and corroborated, with top class sources and big fire power historians including A J P Taylor, M Hastings and A Tooze. Coupled with some more nuanced and lowkey historians, authors and writers

Worth the read (or listen), if you take in interest in understanding why Britain today is the way it is.

Finally this should be consumed as a starting point for further reading, by itself it lacks the depth and length required to fully breakdown much of what is discussed as the questions it tries to answer are extremely broad and multi faceted. This certainly is not a criticism, rather it should be highlighted to any reader that there is much more to learn when discussion Britain during the C20th.



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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-21-19

Provocative, interesting polemic

Enjoyable and well read, I wish the argument was more detailed and focussed. Could have been longer and gone into greater depth, and it's a shame that Hitchens casually comments on contemporary issues that are only tangentially related to his thesis. It would also have been good to have a stronger sense of how the war developed over time, the role of the Soviet Union, and the aftermath of the war in Britain itself.

Overall though, highly recommended and an important corrective to the dangerous myths we still believe about the Second World War and our role in it.

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  • Dan Boresjo
  • 02-23-19

Refreshing perspective on WWII

Hitchen's critique of the special relationship is a real gem of this essential de-glamorised perspective of WWII and the decline of empire.

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  • Philip R.
  • 07-26-19

Ramblings of a contrarian.

Peter Hitchens has assembled here a barely cohesive narrative to support his view that the British have a rose tinted view of victory in World War II. There is nothing new here, so he constructs a set of paper tigers to fight and states the obvious to do so. We did not fight the war to save the Jews. No serious historian has ever suggested that we did. We declared war after the invasion of Poland but then did not seek to liberate Poland immediately. Everybody knows this and the non-feasibility of defending Poland was known at the time. That was not the point of declaring war. He accepts that war with Hitler at some stage would have been necessary but seems to argue for both an earlier war and delaying the war until it becomes unavoidable and presumably less likely to be won without even more bloodshed. The style is pompous and devoid of either humour or modesty, which is surely required in the case on a non-historian venturing into an already well populated academic sphere.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful