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Phoney Victory (vs "Bloodlands")


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There was a heated discussion a couple of weeks ago about these two books.  I promised to read "Phoney War" if the other chap read "Bloodlands".  So...  

"Bloodlands" by Timothy Snyder was a gift from a Latvian relative who wanted me to know more about her experiences.  "Bloodlands" is a very well researched academic (but surprisingly very readable) book that describes all the horrific events that ended up with something like 10 million dead from starvation, deportation, execution, and massacre... primarily by Stalin and the Soviets, but also by other East European ethnic groups who hated each other.  This was all happening before WW2 and Hitler's efforts to beat that number.


"The Phoney Victory" by Peter Hitchens is a much more of a mass-market book that goes to extremes to by controversial - presumably as that is the secret to sales.  Unless one has had a poor education and little knowledge of history, much of what Hitchens writes about was known to those of us who were raised and educated in GB back in the 60's and 70's.  Or, maybe cos I had parents who were refugees from East Europe, so I just gleaned much info from them.  However, about 10%-15% of the book is fascinating - eg: How the US had much antipathy for GB between the wars as GB had defaulted on its debts after WW1, and how the US deliberately destroyed its rival, the British Empire, and transported all of GB's gold to hold in Fort Knox as part payment for lend-lease etc.  ie:  GB was bankrupted by the US in return for aid and has been a vassal state of the US ever since.  

In summary... Hitchen's book thesis is that all the great leaders of the day, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Hitler etc were all devious, lying, mostly incompetent, hypocrites who made huge errors that cost many lives, and that WW2 was an "accident" of silly treaties - rather like the way WW1 started.  No one comes out of this book as a "good person" altho' H goes out of his way to repeatedly praise the brave folks who did the actual fighting and dying.  

"Phoney Victory" is definitely a much easier and more entertaining read than "Bloodlands".  What put me off, is that Hitchens comes off like an abused schoolboy full of hate and vindictiveness who wants to hit back at all the authority figures and institutions that hurt or humiliated him as a kid.  If one doesn't know too much about WW2 and its aftermath (particularly its disastrous result for GB) it's worth reading.


Edited by Erwin
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