This exciting series of ‘What If…? essays was published in Spring 2011 by Biteback. I shall convince you that Lord Halifax could easily have become Prime Minister instead of Winston Churchill in May 1940 and that he would have tried to seek peace with Hitler. That’s why he did not last long! In my ‘counter-factual essay” he resigned in August 1944.
'Hugh Purcell offers an admirably balanced view of a Halifax premiership in 1940. The arch-appeaser would have lasted no more than two months, Purcell argues, after trying and failing to make peace with Hitler.
'The gravitational tug of Churchill is irresistible and Purcell devotes at least half his essay to the leader-in-waiting. He reminds us how unfit for office Churchill seemed in 1940. The architect of Gallipoli had spent the opening months of the war deepening his reputation as a rash and impetuous militarist.' Lloyd Evans, The Spectator.
'Counterfactual history has to be plausible and offer a tantalising picture of a past at least as interesting as the one the nation lived through. Fortunately for this collection of essays on the best prime ministers we never had, British politics has a rich back catalogue of colourful characters who came close, and life might well have been more interesting under some.' Sean O'Grady, The Independent
'The Prime Ministers who Never Wereis a provocative way of examining how history might have been different. It's only when you consider how to manipulate the conditions to create an alternative future that the factors that shape outcomes become clearer...' Editorial, The Guardian.
More reviews. Andy McSmith, The Independent...