Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940

Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940

by John Kelly


$3.00 $30.00 Save 90% Current price is $3, Original price is $30. You Save 90%. View All Available Formats & Editions


“WWII scholar John Kelly triumphs again” (Vanity Fair) in this remarkably vivid account of a key moment in Western history: The critical six months in 1940 when Winston Churchill debated whether England should fight Nazi Germany—and then decided to “never surrender.”

London in April, 1940, is a place of great fear and conflict. The Germans have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. The Nazi war machine now menaces Britain, even as America remains uncommitted to providing military aid. Should Britain negotiate with Germany? The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, and are divided. Churchill, leading the faction to fight, and Lord Halifax, cautioning that prudence is the way to survive, attempt to usurp one another by any means possible. In Never Surrender, we feel we are alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire, and perhaps, the world.

Drawing on the War Cabinet papers, other government documents, private diaries, newspaper accounts, and memoirs, historian John Kelly tells the story of the summer of 1940. Kelly takes readers from the battlefield to Parliament, to the government ministries, to the British high command, to the desperate Anglo-French conference in Paris and London, to the American embassy in London, and to life with the ordinary Britons. We see Churchill seize the historical moment and ultimately inspire his government, military, and people to fight. Kelly brings to life one of the most heroic moments of the twentieth century and intimately portrays some of its largest players—Churchill, Lord Halifax, Hitler, FDR, Joe Kennedy, and others. Never Surrender is a fabulous, grand narrative of a crucial period in World War II and the men and women who shaped it. “For lovers of minute-by-minute history, it’s a feast” (Huffington Post).

Editorial Reviews

David Maraniss

With his masterly touch at bringing history alive, John Kelly makes his readers feel as though they are in anxious London during the fateful days of 1940. Never Surrender brims with dozens of illuminating scenes accompanying the unforgettable presence of Winston Churchill and his indomitable will.

Vanity Fair

"WWII scholar John Kelly triumphs again with Never Surrender."

Judy Collins

John Kelly writes brilliantly.”

Jesse Kornbluth at Head Butler

For lovers of minute-by-minute history, [Never Surrender] is a feast.

Geoffrey Wawro

"This is an outstanding, gripping read by a popular historian. It blends colorful biographies, pungent anecdotes and a solid grasp of the great strategic issues that weighed on decision-makers in 1940.'

Simon Winchester

"A glorious book."

WW2 Podcast

"Impressive in scope but attentive to detail...Never Surrender is a character-driven narrative of a crucial period in World War II history and the men and women who shaped it."


An intense and often surprising account of what it was like for the leaders, soldiers and citizens of Britain…[John Kelly] brings the Fateful Summer alive in all its fear and trembling.

Head Butler

For lovers of minute-by-minute history, [NEVER SURRENDER] is a feast.

From the Publisher

Praise for Never Surrender

Library Journal

Kelly's (The Graves Are Walking; The Great Mortality) fastidiously researched narrative begins in 1919, when the British were coming to grips with mourning the dead of World War I, and concludes with Britain's heroic stand against the Nazis in the summer of 1940. His description of the major events of the interwar era—the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, and the desperate diplomacy to avoid war in 1939—flows smoothly despite reams of detail. The author successfully balances the big picture with stories of persons who range from Count Ciano, the foreign minister of Italy to a British soldier waiting to be evacuated from Dunkirk. VERDICT This narrative provides a valuable corrective to popular histories that ignore or downplay those in the British Parliament, and the population, who campaigned for a compromise peace with Germany in the spring and summer of 1940; Churchill's victory was in no way inevitable. Unfortunately, the book's thesis seems to be contained in its title, and as such the reader might not recognize what Kelly is trying to accomplish until halfway through. Despite this, the title is recommended for public libraries.—Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594710424
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 10/20/2015
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Customer Reviews