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.
As Antoinette Burton points out in the introduction to her newest work, The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism, there has been no shortage of blockbusters about the British Empire to be found on the shelves of local booksellers. Many of these take for granted the rise and fall narrative of Empire.
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.
Of all former government officials who have turned to the pen, Sir Rodric Braithwaite should arguably be considered one of the more welcome additions. Following three previous books focusing on the Soviet Union and Russia, he has recently turned his attention to the issue of nuclear weapons and the precarious deterrence which has kept them from being used in warfare since 1945.