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One might be forgiven for thinking that British defence policy between the Napoleonic era and the outbreak of the First World War was always geared towards a large, continental commitment.
Peter Yearwood has carried out impressively extensive research to produce this account of how British foreign policy was closely linked to the formation and operation of the League of Nations in its early years.
On 18 September 1938, British policymakers, shocked by Hitler’s evident readiness to go to war over the Sudetenland, the German-speaking fringe of territory around the western half of Czechoslovakia, offered to guarantee what remained of Czechoslovakia once it renounced its alliances with France and the Soviet Union and agreed to transfer the territory in question to Germany.
In From World War to Cold War: Churchill, Roosevelt, and the International History of the 1940s, David Reynolds seeks to bring a sense of contingency to existing considerations of the 1940s, ‘the most dramatic and decisive decade of the twentieth century’ (p. 1). As Reynolds reminds us, neither World War II nor the Cold War was inevitable.