The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill

“The Gathering Storm” is the first volume of Winston Churchill’s six-volume memoirs about World War II. It covers the period from the end of World War I to the beginning of World War II, chronicling the rise of Adolf Hitler, the capitulation of the European democracies, and the grim prelude to global conflict.

Churchill provides a detailed account of the diplomatic failures, appeasement policies, and missed opportunities that, in his view, paved the way for the Second World War. As a central figure during this period, first as a backbench MP and later as First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill offers a unique insider’s perspective.


  1. Rich Detail: Churchill’s account is a treasure trove of details, containing not just political and military facts but also personal anecdotes, letters, and reflections that paint a vivid picture of the era.
  2. Insider’s Perspective: Given Churchill’s role in the events, the book provides unparalleled insights into the decision-making processes, debates, and dilemmas faced by British leadership.
  3. Eloquent Prose: Churchill was not just a politician but also a skilled writer. His command over the English language shines through, making the narrative compelling and engaging.
  4. Moral Stance: Churchill’s unwavering opposition to appeasement and his early recognition of the Nazi threat underscore the book’s moral and philosophical underpinnings.


  1. Subjectivity: While “The Gathering Storm” is a work of history, it is also very much Churchill’s personal account. As such, it reflects his biases, beliefs, and interpretations. Some historians believe Churchill sometimes portrays events in ways that defend or enhance his own role and reputation.
  2. Limited Perspective: The book largely presents a Eurocentric and particularly British-centric view of the lead-up to World War II. Aspects of the global context, including the perspectives of other nations, can sometimes be sidelined.
  3. Hindsight Bias: Churchill’s narrative occasionally lapses into a “I told you so” tone, emphasizing his warnings about Nazi Germany. While he did voice concerns during the 1930s, the clarity of hindsight might accentuate some of these warnings in the retelling.


“The Gathering Storm” is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the tumultuous interwar period and the events leading up to World War II. Through Churchill’s detailed recounting, readers gain insight into the complexities and challenges of the time. However, as with any historical account, especially one written by a major player in the events described, it’s essential to approach the book with an understanding of its inherent subjectivity. Reading it in conjunction with other sources can offer a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the era.