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Churchill and the Dardanelles Myth, Memory, and Reputation

ISBN: 9780198702542 | 019870254X
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pub. Date: 5/23/2017

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In 1915, Winston Churchill's political career was nearly destroyed when the Allied fleet failed to force a passage through the Straits of the Dardanelles. For over a century, Churchill has been both praised and condemned for his role in launching this highly controversial naval campaign. For some, the Dardanelles offensive was a brilliant concept that might have dramatically shortened the First World War. To many others, however, Churchill was a reckless amateur who drove his unwilling and misinformed colleagues into a venture that was doomed to fail.

Churchill and the Dardanelles, based on exhaustive archival research, provides a detailed and authoritative account of the Gallipoli campaign's origins and execution, stripping away the layers of myth that have long surrounded these dramatic events, and showing that no simple verdict is either possible or fair. Naval historian Christopher M. Bell untangles Churchill's complicated relationship with the dynamic First Sea Lord, Admiral Jacky Fisher, and reveals for the first time the behind-the-scenes machinations that led to Churchill's removal from office as First Lord of the Admiralty - including Fisher's covert campaign to undermine support for the Dardanelles operation, and the leaks by figures in high places that fueled a bitter press campaign to drive Churchill from power.

Attention is also given to Churchill's reaction to the results of the Dardanelles offensive in the years that followed: as Bell shows, Churchill spent a good deal of time trying to refute his critics and convince the wider public that the campaign had in fact nearly succeeded. These efforts were so successful that they transformed how the Dardanelles offensive was regarded in popular memory and ensured that is legacy did not stand in the way of Churchill becoming Prime Minister in May 1940. Now, with the aid of archival research, Christopher M. Bell presents a fresh account of how this transformation came to pass.


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