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Churchill and the Dardanelles
The failed naval offensive to force a passage through the Straits of the Dardanelles in 1915 drove Winston Churchill from office in disgrace and nearly destroyed his political career. For over a century, the Dardanelles campaign has been mired in myth and controversy. Many believe it was fundamentally misconceived and doomed to fail, while others see it as a brilliant concept that might have dramatically shortened the First World War and saved millions of lives.
Churchill is either the hero of the story, or the villain.
Drawing on a wide range of original documents, Christopher M. Bell shows that both perspectives are flawed. Bell provides a detailed and authoritative account of the campaign's origins and execution, explaining why the naval attack was launched, why it failed, and how it was transformed into an even more disastrous campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula. He untangles Churchill's complicated relationship with Britain's admirals, politicians, and senior civil servants, and uncovers the machinations
behind the bitter press campaign in 1915 to drive him from power.
Churchill and the Dardanelles explores the origins of the myths surrounding the ill-fated campaign, and provides the first full account of Churchill's tireless efforts in the decades after 1915 to refute his legion of critics and convince the public that the Dardanelles campaign had nearly succeeded. Largely by his own exertions, Churchill ensured that the legacy of the Dardanelles would not stop him from becoming Prime Minister in 1940.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'This immaculate study of the First Lord of the Admiralty's disgrace and comeback is ... likely to become the definitive work on the campaign, and Churchill's role in it. What gives the book its edge is not merely Bell's scholarship, which is rigorous, but its highly original analysis of the aftermath ... Unlike most additions to the Churchill bibliography, it is truly valuable.' * Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph * 'Meticulously researched and readable account.' * History of War * 'Christopher Bell's knowledge of the sources cannot be bettered, and he has shown himself to be the ideal person to present this important, accessible reassessment' * Eric Grove, Times Literary Supplement * 'A clear and authoritative account about Churchill's role in the Dardanelles offensive. Bell's style is easily accessible for the armchair strategist but is equally thorough and well footnoted for the weathered naval historian. Everyone can appreciate the enormous efforts and herculean tasks Bell undertook to disentangle the reality of the Dardanelles from its various narrative myths.' * Warren Dockter, Churchill Bulletin * 'Well-researched study.' * Saul Kelly, Middle Eastern Studies * '[Churchill and the Dardanelles] is a well-written and important book which adds valuably to the literature on Churchill himself and to the strategic history of the First World War.' * David Dutton, International History Review * 'Bell explores the subject afresh and does so with such mastery that the tenor of his judgments rings true. [...] In clearing away a mass of historical debris from the scene, Bell has achieved for Churchill and Gallipoli what David Reynolds accomplished for Churchill and the Second World War, the excavation of a man from the myth that he created.' * History Today * 'This is a well-written and important book which adds valuably to the literature on Churchill himself and to the strategic history of the First World War.' * David Dutton, International History Review * 'Indispensable' * Yusuf Ali Ozkan, Gelibolu'yu Anlamak * 'Christopher Bell's outstanding Churchill and the Dardanelles... is a fantastic exposition of how academics can write successfully for a broader audience without compromising at all on the quality of their research, and comes with a hearty recommendation from me.' * David Morgan Owen, Defence in Depth * 'Impressive and readable... Churchill and the Dardanelles is an important and balanced book... For anyone interested in Gallipoli, or Winston Churchill, it is essential reading.' * Gary Sheffield, Stand To! * 'The blame-shifting, name-calling, and finger-pointing were not stilled by an exhaustive Dardanelles Commission inquiry and its 1919 report, but should now finally come to an end a century later with the publication of this well-researched, very well-written, but above all judiciously objective book by the distinguished naval historian Christopher M. Bell... This excellent book cuts through a century of pro- and anti-Churchill writing to reach remarkably balanced
conclusions.' * Andrew Roberts, Weekly Standard * 'Bell's conclusions are admirably balanced.' * David French, Journal of Military History * 'A marvellous book.' * Robin Brodhurst, British Journal of Military History * 'An authoritative account.' * Paul Ridgeway, Flash: Trinity House Fraternity Review * 'Bell's historical judgements are balanced and fair. He has made a major contribution to British naval history and to a clearer understanding of that towering twentieth-century political figure, Winston Churchill. Bell's book will stand as the definitive study of the Dardanelles campaign and the central role of Churchill for many years to come.' * W. Mark Hamilton, The Mariner's Mirror: The International Quarterly Journal of The Society for Nautical Research * 'This is quite simply the best naval history book that I have read this year. Christopher Bell may not have written the last word on this still very emotive subject, but I can't imagine that anyone will be able to produce a better, more equitably balanced and authoritative account of the Dardanelles operation than he has done. It is quite superb in virtually every way.' * Malcolm H. Murfett (Kings College, London), The International Journal of Maritime History * 'A book which combines a thoroughly researched, well-written and convincing new assessment of one of the British Empire's most controversial and disputed campaigns with a thoughtful and reflective survey of how the episode has come to be understood since ... one of the best additions to the scholarship on the First World War produced since 2014.' * David G. Morgan-Owen, English Historical Review * 'In this highly readable and comprehensive treatment, Christopher M. Bell treats the evidence with forensic care and delivers arguments that are consistently nuanced and fair. The book casts new light both on Churchill himself and on the wider question of civil-military relations during World War I' * Richard Toye, author of The Roar of the Lion *