John Lukacs

Five Days in London: May 1940 Translated from the English (United States) by Alice Tillier. Publication date : September 1, 2002

The days from 24 to 28 May 1940 significantly altered the course of the history of the past century. When German troops reached the Atlantic coast, the British counterattack resulted in the disaster of Dunkirk. Europe was on its knees. Britain seemed powerless. For several critical days, at 10 Downing Street, the British cabinet debated whether to negotiate or to continue the war against Hitler. And if the war was to be continued, how would it be fought? What hope was left? Lukacs takes us into the crucial unfolding of these five days that changed history. He shows vividly how Winston Churchill, recently appointed prime minister, succeeded in influencing not only his immediate collaborators, but also his political rivals and the citizenry — although these were only partly informed about the dangers that faced them — to support his determination to stand fast and fight a series of battles that were being described as hopeless before they had even been fought. The events described here provide a lesson in courage as much as in politics.

A historian and the recipient of numerous literary and academic prizes, Lukacs is the author of several major works, including The Duel and The Last European War, both published by Yale University Press. He was formerly a professor of history at Chestnut College in Philadelphia.