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The Phoney Victory

The World War II Illusion
Narrated by: Peter Hitchens
Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
Categories: History, Second World War
5 out of 5 stars (24 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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Interesting throughout

I learned a lot from listening to this book. It also posed many questions I would like to answer with further readings. Thank you Mr Hitchens and also Elliot for recommending me this book.

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Relentless. Unflinching. Considered. Accessible.

Britain won something... but not the War. Hitchens unflashy use of good English demolishes the Post War British myth that we were brought up with. His prose style in the spoken format is calm and implacable.

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  • casey urey
  • 16-03-2019

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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  • Char
  • 05-03-2019

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Khan Kaiser
  • 23-03-2020

Mr. Hitchens at his best as normal!

First and foremost I must say that I love the sound of Mr. Hitchens voice and would love for him to do more audio books. Anyhow, in this he isn't afraid to strip away all the myths that surround the Second World War and, from what I can tell, tells it like it is. Very enjoyable for any history lover and made even more so by the author's amazing voice.

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  • Jiri
  • 11-03-2020

I would love to listen to this book..

however the narrator is unintelligible. Not only he is British, but he simply refuses to pronounce words in a way that someone other than an Englishman would understand. And I wonder if even English people can listen to this. Again, it is not that he has an annoying accent, but I can't literally understand half of what he says.

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  • emmiehouse
  • 14-11-2019

Tragic

This books tells a tragic tale well. It is hard to see comforting myths overturned, but it is necessary

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  • Patrick Henry
  • 03-08-2019

Couldn't stop listening.

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

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-07-2019

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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  • Laurence S Danvers
  • 20-04-2019

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?

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  • Gregory F Naylor
  • 04-05-2019

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-02-2019

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!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-02-2019

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.

14 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 11-11-2019

Interesting in parts, very dry for majority.

A different and interesting history of world war 2, with some interesting revaluations and stories.
however it is quite dry and almost boring in parts, some sections seem particularly dragged out and bland.
also seems to be alot of assumptions, opinions and exaggerations presented as facts, the author adds a fair amount of his own option, which adds depth in parts, but also adds bias and some troubling opinions (depending on readers perspective)

This book seems quite niche and will certainly appeal to some, probably real ww2 buffs looking for a different take on events.

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  • Oliver Duncan
  • 11-02-2019

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 people found this helpful

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  • David Cr
  • 17-05-2020

WW2 - essential reading

This is essential reading for anyone interested in the reality of events before, during and after WW2. You may think you know all about WW2 from school, TV documentaries etc - but you must read this book to dig down to the real detail. Many of the myths you may have grown up with will be forensically brought crashing down with detailed evidence from Hitchens. Get ready to be made uncomfortable! This is an excellent piece of work.

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  • Stuart Abram
  • 21-04-2020

The best of Hitchens

An excellent account of the worst days of British decline. First class. Unlike the other Hitchens.

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  • George Dunbar
  • 13-04-2020

Fantastic book, read with an open mind

This book will open your eyes to see how ww2 is broadly perceived and how that compares to its reality. It is not the ultimate morality play of absolute good people's verses bad. The Nazi were of course evil and worthy foes as they turned out increasingly during the war, hitc hens does not dispute this. It is the perceptions of how the war played out that he questions and it's wider questions and implications for our present time.