“Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory” by Michael Korda

January 18, 2018

Genre: History, War, Biography, Political I Author : Michael Korda I Publisher : Liveright Publishing First published: 2016 I Pages : 544p I ISBN : 1631491326 (ISBN13: 9781631491320) I   Buy at : Amazon.com, Google Shopping

Recently, I had a chance to watch Christopher Nolan’s 2017 movie “Dunkirk”, which inspired to pick this book “Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory” by Michael Korda.

The movie as well the book tells the same history: how the mighty Great Britain army was surrounded and left “alone” against the force of Nazi Germany and dreadfully evacuated from the French beach of Dunkirk in 1940.

Movies are definitely a better medium to visualise these kind of history and intensifying combat scenes; Christopher Nolan has done a remarkable job too!. The movie is utterly immersive, keeps every audience engaged thru ‘out the 2+ hours of drama. But what we saw on screen was only the last 100 pages of Michael Korda's “Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory”; If you want to get the whole history of Dunkirk then you must read this book!

"It is curious with what clarity one remembers great events of the past,"  the author Michael Korda recalls his memory from September 1939 when he was a 6 years old boy. As his family was in public life (film industry), was closely in touch with Churchill and following all the political developments – the Korda’s had more exposure to every stage of the World War-II.

Thanks to his memory (perhaps a bit of imagination too😐), Michael Korda perfectly combines his family memoirs with the chronicles of World War-II step-by-step besides all the epic events that led defeat in the Dunkirk.

Like World War -I, the French and England troops had prepared for a defensive war, but the Germans were fully loaded for an aggressive mobile war, powered by ultra-fast tankers that could rip-off the defensive lines so easily. Another big issue was: neither the French nor the British actually fully trusted each other thru ‘out the game.

Many of the British commanders and troops despised the French soldiers on their discipline, characters and even on their outlooks. In turn, the French hated the Britain as they felt that the France was trapped into the war which they never wanted to.

Korda also gives his perception on one of the mysterious questions of history: “Why did Hitler let the British allied troops to evacuate?”. Germany was in a very good position to entirely destroy the 4.00.000 allied soldiers and millions of equipment. Germany would have even captured the totally defenceless Britain (since all of their army was strangled at Dunkirk; they were literally defenceless, at just 22 km away)

But Hitler did not go for the kill, instead let the soldiers to evacuate. Korda explains that Britain was never the target for Hitler; his focus was only to deplete the French. He also mentions the Nazi-Germany did not want go further, since they feared that further extension might break their chain.

Throughout the book, he also mentions about many instances of war strategies, commanders and military professionalism from all the three countries involved. He also did not fail to mention the Dutch yachts and fishing boats which played a major role in the evacuation; without their help those 4.00.000 soldiers could not have survived, especially since the Britain’s navy was also stranded and helpless.

Overall: “Alone” is utterly immersive, Michael Korda takes us all through those battle fields step-by-step. The book is also sprinkled with many rare photographs all along (which keeps you even more engaged). Though there’re criticisms that the book is written keeping the American audience in mind😉, it is still a great piece of work to go through the history. So, get the book, sit "alone", read it and feel how enthralling the history can be and how much we can learn from the past.

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  1. Thank you for sharing! I also saw Dunkirk and found myself reading wikipedia and what not afterwards to read more about it. I will add this book to my TBR!

  2. This was a great review to read! I can't remember the last time I read a non-fiction book, and I'm probably not going to change that anytime soon. But, I did briefly consider it.

  3. I think it would probably be impossible to accurately and fully stage this as a movie, they have to focus where the human interest drama is ;)

  4. My father in law would love this book. I need to share your review with him.

  5. Very interesting review. Thank you!

  6. Looks good. I've not seen the film, but we had to do a lot on Dunkirk when I was at school. Love your thoughts

  7. Intriguing. This is something my husband might like, as he is into WW2. Not sure it is one I would pick up, though.

    Megan @ Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest