Never Surrender: Winston Churchill & Britain’s Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940

Written by John Kelly
Review by Laura Shepperson

Never Surrender describes the political machinations taking place in Britain during 1939 and 1940, when the Cabinet debated whether to negotiate peace with Hitler or to engage in a war. While it now seems obvious that going to war was the correct decision, and Churchill the right man to lead Britain to victory, it was interesting to read the debate and events leading to that decision.

Although a non-fiction book about the events leading up to World War II, Never Surrender is definitely not a dusty academic tome. It uses descriptive, evocative language to tell its readers a tale. For example, Kelly describes war as coming “as quietly as a church lady”, while Paris is “pockmarked with bomb craters”. He uses sources such as diaries and letters to attribute emotions to both individuals and the population as a whole. Weather, and its effect, is mentioned frequently: “The harsh winter… further soured the public mood”. The result reads like a gripping story. Never Surrender is well researched, although it occasionally feels sensationalised, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the political background to World War II.