Fateful Question, September 1943 to April 1944, is the third document volume to the seventh narrative volume, Winston S. Churchill: Road to Victory, 1941–1945. The document volumes for the remainder of 1944 through 1965 are forthcoming. This volume relates Churchill’s story from the invasion of mainland Italy to the canal preparations for Operation Overlord. During these eight months, Churchill traveled nearly 14,000 miles, wrote more than 1,800 pieces of correspondence, and delivered over a dozen speeches. As the tide of the war turned in favor of the Allies, Churchill focused his attention and energy on matters such as the Italian campaign and its early stagnation, the three major Allied conferences at the end of 1943, the bombing campaign executed by the British and Americans against the German homeland, and the desperate need for landing craft to deploy in the impending cross-Channel invasion. Also during this period, Churchill’s involvement in the Soviet–Polish controversy displayed his nascent concerns over the influence of communism in post-war Europe. Despite the continuing destruction of war and uncertainty about upcoming operations, it was at long last possible to consider what the peace would look like. As Larry P. Arnn writes in the preface, Churchill’s “early hope in the war was that Britain would conduct itself with honor and achieve its ‘Finest hour,’ and if that were done, victory might be achieved. Now the victory looked sure.
Sir Martin Gilbert was born in England in 1936. He is a graduate of Oxford University, from which he holds a Doctorate of Letters, and is an Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. In 1962 he began work as one of Randolph Churchill’s research assistants, and in 1968, after Randolph Churchill’s death, he became the official biographer of Winston Churchill. Since then he has published six volumes of the Churchill biography, and has edited – to date – twelve volumes of Churchill documents. As a Distinguished Fellow at Hillsdale College, Michigan, he is currently completing the Churchill document volumes.
During forty-eight years of research and writing, Sir Martin has published eighty books, including The First World War, The Second World War, The Somme: The Heroism and Horror of War, D-Day, The Day the War Ended, and a three-volume History of the Twentieth Century. He has also written, as part of his series of ten historical atlases, Atlas of the First World War, and, most recently, Atlas of the Second World War.
Sir Martin’s film and television work has included a documentary series on the life of Winston Churchill. His other published works include Churchill: A Photographic Portrait, In Search of Churchill, Churchill and America, and the single volume Churchill, A Life.