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By Raymond Callahan

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In "Variants of the Offensive," written after a few weeks in France, Lieutenant Colonel Churchill tried to convince British headquarters of the merits of the tank as well as the lavish use of shields, trench mortars, and siege techniques resembling those of the seventeenth century. 5 to 1 in favor of the Germans. However exhilarating Churchill found frontline command ("It is one long holiday for me," he wrote to his wife22), there was never any doubt that he would return to the political arena.

The latter would threaten Germany's Austro-Hungarian ally, already hammered by the Russians, and if Austria-Hungary seemed likely to go down, neutral Italy would want to be in on the kill. The possibilities seemed endless and were the subject of two lengthy papers circulated at the end of December by David Lloyd George, chancellor of the exchequer and second-ranking figure in the government, and Hankey, rapidly moving into the position of bureaucratic grey eminence that would be his for the next quarter century.

The most daunting obstacle is the quasi-mythic stature he has assumed. The critical evaluation of a national monument is a tricky business, particularly when the nation in question is not the writer's own. In the face of all these difficulties, I have set myself the task of trying to synthesize in a book of moderate size the mass of material now available on Churchill's role at the climactic moment in British history when victory in war led to the death of an empire. Because this is my purpose I have concentrated on the years from 1940 to 1955.

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