Fateful Choices

Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World 1940-1941
Ian Kershaw

In hindsight, history tends to take on an air of tectonic inevitability. What happened is always what had to happen. Nevertheless, at least at the level of political chronicle, one can focus in on moments when key decisions have been made that have influenced the course of history. Ian Kershaw looks at ten such moments from the Second World War in this book, analyzing to what extent they made a difference and to what extent they were true decisions at all, as opposed to the simple workings out of the logic of established ideologies. Given the militaristic fantasies of Germany, Japan and Italy – fantasies largely bred of envy at the position of Britain and the United States as imperial hegemons – conflict was inevitable. Such decisions as were made, no matter how strategically stupid or ill-advised (Mussolini’s invasion of Greece tops the list here) derived ineluctably from bedrock premises. Still, it is interesting to observe history’s actors playing their different parts, for good and ill, on such a massive stage.