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The Second World War: Volume 5: Closing the Ring [Secure eReader]
eBook by Winston Churchill

eBook Category: History
eBook Description: One of the most fascinating works of history ever written, Winston's Churchill's monumental The Second World War is a six-volume account of the struggle of the Allied powers in Europe against Germany and the Axis. Told through the eyes of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, The Second World War is also the story of one nation's singular, heroic role in the fight against tyranny. Pride and patriotism are evident everywhere in Churchill's dramatic account and for good reason. Having learned a lesson at Munich that they would never forget, the British refused to make peace with Hitler, defying him even after France had fallen and after it seemed as though the Nazis were unstoppable. Churchill remained unbowed throughout, as did the people of Britain in whose determination and courage he placed his confidence. Patriotic as Churchill was, he managed to maintain a balanced impartiality in his description of the war. What is perhaps most interesting, and what lends the work its tension and emotion, is Churchill's inclusion of a significant amount of primary material. We hear his retrospective analysis of the war, to be sure, but we are also presented with memos, letters, orders, speeches, and telegrams that give a day-by-day account of the reactions-both mistaken and justified-to the unfolding drama. Strategies and counterstrategies develop to respond to Hitler's ruthless conquest of Europe, his planned invasion of England, and his treacherous assault on Russia. It is a mesmerizing account of the crucial decisions that have to be made with imperfect knowledge and an awareness that the fate of the world hangs in the balance. In Volume Four of this work, The Hinge of Fate, Churchill describes the changing fortunes of the Allies as their combined efforts gradually begin to turn the tide against Germany, Italy and Japan. Volume Five, Closing the Ring, shows the Allied forces going on the offensive. Mussolini falls, Hitler is besieged on three sides, and the Japanese find themselves hard-pressed to maintain a grip on the territories they had recently overtaken. The work ends in triumph and anticipation as the Allies take Rome and prepare for the invasion of Normandy. As victory comes into sight, coordination and agreement between the three powers becomes crucial, both in terms of the endgame strategy for the war and the plans for peace. Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt work towards keeping their uneasy partnership working in concert, and much of this volume is dedicated to describing their intricate and fascinating negotiations. Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 due in no small part to this awe-inspiring work

eBook Publisher: RosettaBooks, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2002

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Book One: Italy Won

1: The Command of the Seas Guadalcanal and New Guinea

Earlier volumes have led us to the point where the aggressors, both in Europe and Asia, had been driven to the defensive. Stalingrad in February 1943 marked the turn of the tide in Russia. By May all German and Italian forces in the African continent had been killed or captured. The American victories in the Coral Sea and at Midway Island a year before had stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific Ocean. Australia and New Zealand were freed from the threat of invasion. Henceforward in Europe the Axis must expect and await the Anglo-American assault which had so long been purposed. The tremendous armies of the United States were growing in strength and quality with every month that passed. But the Western Allies could never strike home at Hitler's Europe, and thus bring the war to a decisive end, unless another major favourable change came to pass. Anglo-American "maritime power," a modern term expressing the combined strength of naval and air forces properly woven together, became supreme on and under the surface of the seas and the oceans during 1943. It was not until April and May that the U-boats were beaten and the mastery of the life-lines across the Atlantic was finally won. Without this no amphibious operations on the enormous scale required to liberate Europe would have been possible. Soviet Russia would have been left to face Hitler's whole remaining strength while most of Europe lay in his grip.

In the Mediterranean the U-boats were also mastered. Our armies for the Sicilian and Italian campaigns were assembling and could now be launched across the sea against the underbelly of Hitler's Europe. Besides this the Mediterranean was the main artery in the communications of the British Empire. The extirpation of Axis power in North Africa opened to our convoys the direct route to Egypt, India, and Australia, protected from Gibraltar to Suez by sea and air forces working from the newly won bases along the route. The long haul round the Cape, which had cost us so dear in time and effort, would soon be ended. The saving of an average of forty-five days for each convoy to the Middle East increased magnificently at one stroke the fertility of our shipping.

* * *

The single-handed British struggle against the U-boats, the magnetic mines, and the surface raiders in the first two and a half years of the war has already been described. The long-awaited supreme event of the American Alliance which arose from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour seemed at first to have increased our perils at sea. In 1940 four million tons of merchant shipping were lost, and more than four million tons in 1941. In 1942, after the United States was our ally, nearly eight million tons of the augmented mass of Allied shipping had been sunk. Until the end of 1942, the U-boats sank ships faster than the Allies could build them. The foundation of all our hopes and schemes was the immense shipbuilding programme of the United States. By the beginning of 1943, the curve of new tonnage was rising sharply and losses fell. Before the end of that year, new tonnage at last surpassed losses at sea from all causes, and the second quarter saw, for the first time, U-boat losses exceed their rate of replacement. The time was presently to come when more U-boats would be sunk in the Atlantic than merchant ships. But before this lay a long and bitter conflict.

Copyright © 1951 by Winston Churchill

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