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Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister

Author(s): Nicholas Shakespeare


*** Selected as a 2017 Book of the Year in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Observer and The Economist ***

'A gripping story of Churchill's unlikely rise to power' Observer

London, May 1940. Britain is under threat of invasion and Neville Chamberlain's government is about to fall. It is hard for us to imagine the Second World War without Winston Churchill taking the helm, but in Six Minutes in May Nicholas Shakespeare shows how easily events could have gone in a different direction.

It took just six minutes for MPs to cast the votes that brought down Chamberlain. Shakespeare moves from Britain's disastrous battle in Norway, for which many blamed Churchill, on to the dramatic developments in Westminster that led to Churchill becoming Prime Minister. Uncovering fascinating new research and delving into the key players' backgrounds, Shakespeare gives us a new perspective on this critical moment in our history.

'Totally captivating. It will stand as the best account of those extraordinary few days for very many years'
Andrew Roberts

'Superbly written... Shakespeare has a novelist's flair for depicting the characters and motives of men'
The Times

'Utterly wonderful... It reads like a thriller'
Peter Frankopan



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"History books should give us insight and information, surprise and entertainment, and allow us to see the world, an incident or a character differently. Nicholas Shakespeare's Six Minutes in May delivers in abundance." -- Anthony Sattin * Observer, Best Books of 2017 * "Using new evidence with a novelist's feeling for personality and atmosphere" -- John Gray * Guardian, Best Books of 2017 * "Of the abundant new books on the Second World War, Nicholas Shakespeare's Six Minutes in May...takes the prize. The familiar story of how Churchill unexpectedly became prime minister in 1940 has never been told so amusingly, nor in such detail" -- Simon Heffer * Daily Telegraph, Best History Books of 2017 * "Nicholas Shakespeare's Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime as gripping as a novel. Apart from being meticulously researched, thoroughly original and beautifully written, the book is an important reminder of the fact that the direction of history can change in a heartbeat" -- Peter Frankopan * History Today, Best History Books of 2017 * "An eloquent study in how quickly the political landscape can change -- and history with it" * The Economist, Books of the Year 2017 *

Nicholas Shakespeare was born in 1957. The son of a diplomat, much of his youth was spent in the Far East and South America. His books have been translated into twenty languages. They include The Vision of Elena Silves (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), Snowleg, The Dancer Upstairs, Secrets of the Sea, Inheritance and Priscilla. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He currently lives in Oxford.

General Fields

  • : 9781784701000
  • : Penguin Random House
  • : Arrow
  • : 0.416
  • : April 2018
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Nicholas Shakespeare
  • : Paperback
  • : 518
  • : 528