by Stephen Tall on October 24, 2013
Never Surrender, Michael Dobbs
This is the third of Michael Dobbs’ series of Churchill novels that I’ve read (though it’s the second chronologically). They are superbly gripping. The first, Winston’s War, is the best because of the compelling psychodrama that plays out between Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, the latter fleshed out as a ruthless politician rather than the weak and credulous appeaser of folklore. Never Surrender, set against the backdrop of Dunkirk, relies on the fiery interplay between Winston and a German emigre, Ruth Mueller, who he wants to help him understand Hitler; but it doesn’t ignite. The high politics is undercut by the cliched-but-still-moving story-within-a-story involving a conscientious objector serving in the BEF’s medical corps in France and estranged from his formidably righteous vicar father. Its sequel, Churchill’s Hour, is more accomplished. But, above all, I stand in awe of Dobbs’ ability to create and sustain genuine tension in a series where the ending is never in any doubt.