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On a wet afternoon in September 1938, Neville Chamberlain stepped off an aeroplane and announced that his visit to Hitler had averted the greatest crisis in recent memory. It was, he later assured the crowd in Downing Street, ‘peace for our time’. Within a year of the British prime minister’s return from Munich, Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War began.
That moment of theatre was the culmination of over five years of drama. Beginning with the advent of Hitler in 1933, Tim Bouverie takes us on a fascinating journey from the early days of the Third Reich to the beaches of Dunkirk. We enter the 10 Downing Street of Stanley Baldwin and Chamberlain, and the backrooms of Parliament where an unusual coalition of MPs – including the indomitable Winston Churchill – were among the few to realise that the only real choice was between ‘war now or war later’. And as German troops enter the demilitarised Rhineland, march into Austria and threaten to invade Czechoslovakia, Bouverie takes us into the drawing rooms and dining clubs of fading imperial Britain, where Hitler enjoyed surprising support among the ruling class and even members of the Royal Family.
Drawing on deep archival research, Tim Bouverie has created an unforgettable portrait of the ministers, aristocrats and amateur diplomats who, through their actions and inaction, shaped their country's policy and determined the fate of Europe. Both sweeping and intimate, Appeasing Hitler is not only eye-opening history but a timeless lesson on the challenges of standing up to aggression and authoritarianism – and the calamity that results from failing to do so.