“For Total Surrender”

Was there ever any politician more ill-suited to the historical moment than Neville Chamberlain. The man had absoutely no imagination, couldn’t see beyond his tidy island.

Daniel Todman calls Chamberlain “brave” for flying to Germany to meet personally with Hitler. Chamberlain was accompanied by Harold Wilson. “While Chamberlain and Hitler were talking, Wilson spoke with German diplomats. They assured him that the prime minister was making a great impression as a strong man.”

“Convinced that he could use force without any immediate risk of outside intervention, Hitler became more aggressive . . . Gravely disappointed as he was by this belligerence, Chamberlain was willing to accede. A member of Chamberlain’s cabinet believed that “Chamberlain was quite calmly for total surrender . . . Hitler had obviously hypnotized him . . .” Another member of the Cabinet who could “see which way the cat was jumping — said that after all it was a question of ‘modalities’ . . . whether the Germans went in now or later.”

No one wants to go to war, after all. War means dying, and no one wants to die. If things can be settled by diplomacy, of course that would be the best choice. Self is skipping over all the stuff about Chamberlain. Which means — almost a third of the book. Self did not realize . . . oh well, if she had known Neville Chamberlain would be a major character, she would not have added this book to her reading list.

Now self has reached p. 213. Neville Chamberlain’s diaries reveal his conviction that the war, which finally seems inevitable, even to him, will not last long. Hitler will eventually realize, especially after the German home front collapses, etc. etc.

What. A. Stupid. Fellow.

Self never wanted to read a book about Chamberlain. But here she’s read 200+ pages about him.

On to the next book in her reading list: Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

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