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Publisher's Summary

Eighty years ago, Britain stood at the brink of defeat. In 1942, a string of military disasters engulfed Britain in rapid succession: the collapse in Malaya, the biggest surrender in British history at Singapore, the passing of three large German warships through the Straits of Dover in broad daylight, the longest ever retreat through Burma to the gates of India, serious losses to Rommel's forces in North Africa, the siege of Malta and the surrender at Tobruk. All of this occurred against the backdrop of catastrophic sinkings in the Atlantic and the Arctic convoys. People began to claim that Churchill was not up to the job and that his leadership was failing badly. Public morale reached a new low. 1942: Britain at the Brink explores the story of frustration and despair in that year prompting the prime minister to demand of his army chief 'Have you not got a single general who can win battles?' Using new archival material, historian Taylor Downing shows just how unpopular Churchill became in 1942 with two votes attacking his leadership in the Commons and the emergence of a serious political rival. 

Most people think that Britain's worst moment of the war was in 1940 when the nation stood up against the threat of German invasion. In 1942: Britain at the Brink, Taylor Downing describes in nail-biting detail what was really Britain's darkest hour .

©2022 Taylor Downing (P)2022 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"Taylor Downing vividly brings to life a terrible year." (Max Hastings, Sunday Times)

"Taylor Downing is a wonderful historian and a wonderful history communicator." (Dan Snow, History Hit

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-12-22

An Excellent accurate history of 1942

Taylor Downing has given a clear account of the history of the period. The narrative is given in a clear way so that the people we have all heard about are depicted in their part in that part of history. Taylor's way of describing history follows on from the hundreds of hours of TV history documentaries he was involved in. making .

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  • Jane S.
  • 03-22-22

Liked the story but hated the reading

Although the individual episodes of 1942- like the fall of Singapore and Tobruk- are well known, the author has put them together and drawn some interesting, and to me, new conclusions.
On the other hand the reader’s general tone and particularly use of accents I found to be irritating and even offensive. East Enders, Northerners, Russians, and citizens of the Home Counties were all patronised equally.