Michael Carley’s “1939: The Alliance That Never Was and the Coming of World War II” reads like an episode of Law and Order: Special Appeasement Unit. Carley writes about the high-stakes diplomacy in the 1930s like a court-room drama — a real thriller!
Carley’s main argument is that WWII happened because of British, French, and Polish anti-communism. A British-French-USSR alliance would surely have blocked Nazi expansion in Europe, but would have strengthened Soviet influence, something British and French leaders feared and detested more than Nazism. Even after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland — the start of the “Bore War” or “Phoney War” — British and French leaders continued to appease Hitler.
Although Carley remains commendably objective in his book, Carley’s anti-communism is all too apparent, even if it is difficult for him to criticize the USSR because of the utter failure of British and French leaders. Moreover, the saintliness Carley attributes to Churchill, himself a fascist, throughout the book was rather irritating.
A great book — one that should be required reading in high school history classes.