The third volume of Churchill's great history of the Second World War covers the crucial turning points of the conflict - the German attack on Russia and the Japanese attack on the United States that finally meant that Britain and the Commonwealth were not fighting alone. However, the first of those events does not occur until the half way point of the book, and so for the first nineteen chapters Britain was still fighting alone.
Despite the entry of the Soviet Union and the United States into the war this book covers an almost totally disastrous period. It begins with relative success in the North African desert, but the focus soon moves to the unsuccessful intervention in Greece, the loss of Crete and the early successes of Rommel. The only real British successes of this period were the invasion of Vichy-occupied Syria and the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck.
Even the entry of Russia into the war brings no relief. During the period covered by this book Russia was a burden and not a help to Britain, absorbing British and American weapons production while still looking close to collapse. Only with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour did Churchill reach a point where he believed that the war could not be lost. One of the most famous passages in the book describes Churchill's reaction to the news of Pearl Harbour - "the greatest joy".
As with the entire series, this is an invaluable must-read history of the war, written by one of the most important figures of the war. As always with Churchill this is a fantastically readable book, filled with memorable passages, but that still retains its clarity.
Author: Winston S. Churchill
Publisher: Penguin (2005 edition)