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In 1938 Europe was divided – between those who thought that Adolf Hitler’s intentions were benign, and those who knew they were not. Unfortunately the then British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, was in the former camp. He, along with his French and Italian counterparts, attended a meeting in Munich in September of that year that would go down as one of the most shameful examples of appeasing a tyrant in history. Famously, having signed the Agreement allowing Hitler to go ahead and annexed the Sudetenland, a German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain returned to England promising ‘peace in our time’.
In re-creating the run-up to the Agreement as well as the conference itself and its shocking aftermath, David Faber sheds new light on this extraordinary episode. Full of narrative drive, vivid characters and with the highest possible stakes, Munich is a superb piece of modern history writing.
“Such is his skill as a writer and as a forceful, if one-dimensional, historian, his case against Chamberlain must be judged a masterwork of advocacy” – Daily Mail
“Faber has written a compelling work of narrative history” – The Spectator
“David Faber has made an important contribution to our understanding of the diplomatic debacle which signalled the start of the Second World War”- The Independent
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Speaking for England is the extraordinary true story of an English political tragedy: the bizarre tale of how the son of a member of Churchill’s wartime Cabinet was hanged for treason — one of the last British citizens to suffer that fate.
John Amery had been born into a life of privilege, if not luxury — his father Leo was a prominent Conservative MP and minister, and his brother Julian also went on to a political career of his own. But John was always different, a troubled child who grew into a difficult and tortured adult, with a skewed sense of patriotism leading him not just to a series of broadcasts on behalf of the Germans during the Second World War, but also to an attempt to recruit a ‘Legion of St George’ to take up arms against the Russians. These and other charges resulted in his conviction for treason, and execution. It is the irony and tragedy of the Amery family that John’s sense of duty, although channelled in a different direction, was as strong as that of his father, who had been instrumental in bringing about Chamberlain’s downfall after the Munich crisis, not least in his famous exhortation in the House of Commons to ‘Speak for England!’
Focusing on the fascinating lives of this father and his two sons, and how they were affected by John’s inexorable demise, David Faber has constructed a riveting and deeply moving account of the tragedy of an English political family. Blending biography, history and taut narrative with tremendous skill, he has shed new light on both an extraordinary human story and the society that witnessed it.