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review of The Secret War by Max Hastings Max Hasting book deals with as the full title suggests spies, codes and guerillas during world war II, it's in the title, people Between the stories of the spies and missions, there is also some op-ed by Hastings himself It does lose a star for Hastings' description of other neutral states being "much more important" than Ireland. That gave my ego a hammering . No seriously, I jest. Overall this is an interesting read. There is a lot of detail in it and I liked this book. I found it best as a novel to take in small chunks rather than reading it through because as seems a must with non-fiction, a slower reading speed is necessary. It does help how the book is divided. Needless to say some sections are more interesting and skip along faster than others * * * *
Hastings acknowledges that Churchill's life has undergone minute scrutiny and yet when reading Roy Jenkins' biography manuscript he felt that there was a little left for him to get his teeth into. The scope is narrow as it covers a brief yet significant part of Churchill's life. The research seems in depth looking at the bibliography that is rich in contemporary and later sources as well as original source material. An interesting aside, Hastings thanks a researcher for the work in the Russian archives but laments that access is not as open as it was even ten years ago- a worrying development! I read this on my journeys to work via the train and I was absorbed on every page. The narrative flows easily through the military, politcial, social and personal aspects of this era. It doesn't pull any punches and I felt Hastings was very even handed in the faults of Churchill compared to the often rose-tinted view that often exists nowadays. I am no history student so I accept the interpretations by the author but I have read the Jenkins biography and this is a wlecome addition to my knowledge of Churchill. However, I now need to go a study the social and domestic history of that time to see how Churchill was just what Hastings said he was- a Warlord- and not, it seems, much else.