A gripping book – Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941

This 624 page book is a thought- provoking analysis of 10 momentous decisions made by Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Mussolini and Tojo in the 19 months between May 1940 and Dec 1941 that shaped the course of World War 2 and human history.

These 10 decisions were selected by Kershaw. From this list Kershaw picked three as ” arguably the most far-reaching consequence of all were those of Hitler’s regime : to attack the Soviet Union, to declare war on the United States and to murder the Jews.” { page 6}.

I first read this book in 2007. Rereading it now I can’t help but disagree with the inclusion of two decisions in the list of 10, and the last of the shortlisted three. The murder of the Jews is indeed horrendous but it had no impact on the outcome of the war. Neither did it cause any change in the war objectives of the British or the Americans. The Americans did not declare war on Germany because of these murders.

Neither did the decision of Mussolini to join Hitler against the Allies had any impact on the war if one analyses the puny contributions of the Italian armed forces.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Kershaw is erudite. His writing is clear. Analysis is superb.

I now wish to read a book that analyses the fateful decisions made in 1942 to 1945 that is written in the same ‘ what if’ style as in this book. Such a book to my knowledge has yet to be written.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *