David Owen, Cabinet’s Finest Hour: The Hidden Agenda of May 1940
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One of the crucial turning points of the Second World War took place during the last days of May 1940 when the British government, headed by the new Prime Minister Winston Churchill, confronted by the collapse of its ally France, made the fateful decision not to seek an armistice but to fight on alone. This decision has been analyzed in detail, first by Churchill himself in Their Finest Hour, volume two of his magisterial history of the war and most recently by John Lukacs in Five Days in London, May 1940. Now David Owen, longtime Labor MP and Foreign Secretary for two years under James Callaghan, has turned his attention to this topic. Owen focuses on the nine meetings of the War Cabinet that took place between May 26–28 which took the fateful decision to remain at war. That decision was made against the backdrop of a successful German attack in the West which caught the British and French off guard.
The Allies had planned to meet the German onslaught by moving troops into Belgium,...