The Duel

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In reviewing John Lukacs, The Duel, I noticed that the author has other intentions in mind besides the facts. Lukacs gives a very precise account of the actualy events during those eighty days but in my opinion he wants the reader to grab the bigger concepts. One of these concepts is that Lukacs wants the reader to honestly consider just how close the Allies came to losing the war. Another of these notions is the idea that the main difference between Churchill and Hitler concerned nationalism versus patriotism and a third idea is just how greatly history can be effected by the courageous decisions of a few people.Lukacs makes strong mention of how close Hitler came to victory. Hitler got everything he wanted for so long, without even having to resort to force. Lukacs describes Hitler as ''being an amateur at generalship, but he posessed the great professional talent applicable to all human affairs: an understanding of human nature and the understanding of the weaknesses of his opponents. That was enough to carry him very far''(3). Lukacs wants to make that a point in all of his readers' minds; that Hitler could manipulate people so he could get what he wanted without resorting to violence. Of course, the threat of violence was always present but Hitler was smart enough that he could scare his enemies enough that they would not want to engage in combat. Once actually forced to fight, Hitler still dominated and he could have very possibly won the war if not for that one fatal mistake he made by hesitating in his plans against the English. I think it is important that Lukacs makes sure to get this message across because some people choose to ignore this truth due to the devastating outcomes that would have resulted if Hitler succeeded. The major point presented by Lukacs concerning the difference between Hitler and Churchill has to do with nationalim versus patriotism. Lukacs describes Hitler as a nationalist and Churchill as a patriot. He describes Hitler as a man of ideas and Churchill as a of man principles, because Churchill's ideas changed throughout the war while Hitler tended to think that his ideas were principles. In a footnote there lies a a brilliant explanation of this idea. Dr. Johnson states ''Nationalism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Patriotism is defensive, while nationalism is aggressive. Patriotism is not a substitute for a relig... ... middle of paper ... ...till evident in this directive when it says if necessary. Hitler delivered his speech for a last attempt at peace on July 19, but it did not work. One of his main goals for the speech was to disconnect the people of England from Churchill but this failed because of the manner in which he spoke about Churchill. The next day, Hitler said that the English response meant that the German attack would commenec on Britain in a few days. Looking back at how these events unfolded, everyone should be glad that Hitler made such a mistake. I, for one couldn't believe that Hitler made this mistake. Throughout reading this entire book Hitler usually makes swift, decisive actions that get results and that is why Lukacs stresses this string of events in the book.Overall, this book is wonderfully written on a very interesting topic. The reader is put in the middle of a war of nerves and will between two men, one of which we have grown up to learn to hate. This only makes us even more emotional about the topic at hand. For a history book, it was surprisingly understandable and hard to put down. It enlightened me to the complex problems that existed in the most memorable three months this century.

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