Coffee with Hitler: The British Amateurs Who Tried to Civilise the Nazis
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Kirkus, starred review 'As a lesson of history, this excellent book is a sober reminder to policymakers to look at the evidence in plain sight. The reason why this may be important is that Goering's planned trip to the UK, which was cancelled because the war broke out, was arranged by MI6.
Coffee with Hitler tells the astounding and poignant story, for the first time, of a handful of amateur British intelligence agents who wined, dined and befriended the leading National Socialists between the wars. Charles Spicer tells the chilling story of how otherwise respectable men and women became pawns in a game of international intrigue with a reprehensible regime. This fascinating study challenges the too easy dichotomy between the villainous and duped appeasers and those with Churchillian foresight and insight. With more than a few spies, rogues, and plot twists along the way, Spicer tells a story that could be ripped from the pages of a novel. Or that Hitler himself was so adamant that neither Britain nor France would do anything if he invaded Poland, that when Britain's declaration of war finally arrived at his study in the Reich Chancellery he gave Ribbentrop an icy glare and said 'what now?and, in some circles, quiet satisfaction that a vigorous reformer had shaken up his country in an apparently effective and forward-looking fashion. When Hitler rose to power in the early 1930s, public reaction in Britain was not that of unalloyed horror. The last two paragraphs of the book beautifully summarise the lessons we need to learn to navigate our current and future relationships with dictators and autocracies. The outstanding narrative reads like a thriller, taking readers from the salons of stately homes and St James's clubs to the mass rallies and diplomatic backrooms of Nazi Germany.
ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING - a major and unique contribution to the body of evidence / information on a vital period of European history. I could not recommend this book enough - not least because it reveals just how nuanced the whole subject of appeasement had become by1939. While many, even most, of the British members of the Anglo-German Fellowship were Germanophiles rather than Nazi sympathisers, there was a fine line between cultural appreciation of the country’s literature and art and the more ambiguous ideas expressed by such shadowy figures as the historian TP Conwell-Evans, a man jocularly described by Lloyd George as “my Nazi” and a leading member of the Fellowship. Spicer, who has given close, neutral and unerring scrutiny of the sources, proves to be a brisk, fair-minded and authoritative revisionist… Coffee with Hitler should make it impossible to continue to lampoon the Fellowship as an unsavoury gang. Choice Magazine 'Spicer, who has given close, neutral and unerring scrutiny of the sources, proves to be a brisk, fair-minded and authoritative revisionist.This is the real story of a group of amateurs who went about a mission to appease Adolf Hitler and try to prevent another war in Europe that would surely escalate into a second global conflict. With support from royalty, aristocracy, politicians and businessmen, they hoped to use the much mythologised Anglo-German Fellowship as a vehicle to civilise the Nazis. Julie Gottlieb, professor of modern history, University of Sheffield 'A captivating and convincing revisionist history.
The extraordinary story of three men, a Welsh historian and political secretary, a butterfly-collecting Old Etonian and a Great War fighter ace. For a moment, it genuinely seemed as if amicable relations would persist between the two countries, thanks in part to the work of the Fellowship. This was accentuated by the accession of Edward VIII, a man who was described approvingly by Ribbentrop as “a kind of English National Socialist”.Importantly, the author has provided a reliable and strong backdrop on the positions of various nations including Russia, Austria, Czechoslavakia (now The Czech Republic), Italy, France, and Spain (who were themselves split through civil war during the same period). Washington Post 'In this terrific debut, historian Charles Spicer genuinely enriches and deepens our understanding of the Thirties - the all-important decade in which the great and the good of these islands, scarred to the depths of their souls by the Great War, struggled to avoid a second global conflict. The cleverly worked friendships with Ribbentrop, Goring and Goebbels, are explained in precise and reliable detail, that form the platform for approach to HItler himself.