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Welsh History Review


Vol. 6, nos. 1-4 1972-73

An atlas of Anglesey : Book review.

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continental expeditionary force. This was a genuine Treasury conviction,
but from Chamberlain's lips it must be suspect. For Chamberlain believed
that resolute diplomacy would prevent war. Hitler was no more than a
pan-Germanist; Europe's tensions required relatively minor adjustment.
Diplomatic engineering would neutralize and partition Czechoslovakia,
detach Mussolini from Hitler, and even wind up the Spanish Civil War.
Chamberlain returned from Munich convinced that he had won peace,
and his talk of rearmament was never translated into practical results.
The Foreign Office might have exercised more influence but for its lack
of internal cohesion; it seemed divided, for example, on the question of
the value of the Soviet Union, with Cadogan hostile and Vansittart
favourable. Mr. Middlemas argues that an alliance with Russia provided
a genuine alternative to the Munich agreement; but Chamberlain and
others were prevented from adopting it by inveterate prejudice.
There have always been moral arguments for Munich, chiefly the
assertion that Chamberlain acted in the crisis as the representative of a
pacifically-inclined public determined to avoid another Great War. Mr.
Middlemas shows that Chamberlain was far too much the autocrat to
change course because of a popular breeze. He doubts whether opinion
was especially anti-war at the time of Munich, and points out the
government's resources for moulding public opinion in its own image.
This is essentially a book about Chamberlain. His excessive belief in
the rationality of dictators, and his naive vanity make him an easy target.
Mr. Middlemas is wrong in thinking that his dissection of Chamberlain
invalidates British foreign policy in 1938. It must be doubted whether
Chamberlain's restraints on rearmament, initiated in June 1937, made the
strategic situation notably different for September 1938. The effect of
Chamberlain's premiership was to be felt in 1940-42, from Dunkirk to
Alamein. And even if Chamberlain was the dictator in 1938, he was only
dictator because many powerful men, more realistic than himself,
supported his line. How quickly Chamberlain was to be destroyed
politically in 1940, when the establishment lost confidence in him! The
chiefs of staff clearly wanted to avoid war in September 1938: if the case
against Chamberlain has been made, Mr. Middlemas still has to make the
case against the men who made Chamberlain and Munich possible-
especially the Foreign Office, the armed services, and the Conservative
AN ATLAS OF ANGLESEY. Edited by Melville Richards. The Anglesey
Community Council, Llangefni, 1972. Pp. 160, 22 plates, 60 figures.
£ 2.50.
The merit of this Atlas rests with its comprehensive showing, chiefly by
maps, of the natural, historical, cultural and economic elements in Anglesey
life. Between them, the twenty-four authors are responsible for sixty
sections, eight of them on natural phenomena such as rainfall and soils.
Twenty-five sections are devoted to historical aspects of Anglesey, ranging
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