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Response to Review of Churchill on the Far East in the Second World War: Hiding the History of the ‘Special Relationship’

I am happy to accept Dr. Sundaram’s review of my work; it is gratifying to read that he believes the monograph to be an excellent book which deserves a wide readership.(1a)

The intention behind the research was to further expand upon David Reynold’s magisterial work of 2004, and examine the reasons behind Churchill’s neglect of the war in the Far East when compared to other theatres.(2a) Suspecting that historians had relegated the war in the Far East, and those who fought it, to a side-show, and had done this largely due to following Churchill’s ‘distorting sway’, there was an underlying resolve to situate the war in the Far East as integral to the historiography of the Second World War, and to promote a new perspective on how the post-war world political situation had been shaped by that history.(3a) Whether the research has been successful in this regard is something that I still question.

To have this monograph described as a tightly and clearly written, even-handed piece of thematic research which admirably fills a gap is, of course, gratifying. Yet I also appreciate the minor quibbles which Dr. Sundaram has brought to light. He is correct that I found the copyright restrictions on using the illustrations as far too daunting – especially when I had so many other more urgent copyright requests and permissions to seek. This is not to say that those whom I approached for permissions were unhelpful or obstreperous; in the main everyone granted their permission and freely gave much-needed moral support for the work. Pointing me in the direction of Prange’s 1964 interview with Fuchida (regarding whether the British attack at Taranto was the inspiration for Pearl Harbour), is something which I will investigate if a future edition is published. Most importantly of all, his minor criticisms illustrates how historical research should constantly evolve and move forward.

Notes

  1. The monograph under review was closely based on my PhD thesis, which can be accessed at https://hydra.hull.ac.uk/resources/hull:6844, and where the illustrations used to highlight the chapter content are available to view.Back to (1a)
  2. David Reynolds, In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (London, 2004).Back to (2a)
  3. There are, of course, exceptions to this generalisation: see the thesis bibliography for full details.Back to (3a)