Friday, July 13, 2012

the last book I ever read (Madeleine Albright's Prague Winter, excerpt three)

from Madeleine Albright's Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948:

Neville Chamberlain had assumed the responsibilities of prime minister in May 1937. His policy, which combined appeasement with rearmament, aimed to restore confidence in European security. Sixty-eight when he took the job, Chamberlain has spent much of his career in the shadow of his father, a wealthy industrialist, and of his brother, who had served as foreign secretary. Now, late in his life, he rose higher than either. He was fortunate to live in an era when one could thrive in politics without liking people; his primary passions were music, gardening, and the relentless pursuit of fish.

Chamberlain was a practical, business-oriented man, supremely confident in his judgments and disdainful of critics. He did not believe that war was a solution to any problem and felt sure that all intelligent men would conclude the same. He had the ability, usually valuable but in this case treacherous, of being able to put himself into the shoes of another. He could readily understand Hitler’s resentment off the peace treaty and his accompanying desire to restore a measure of German might. Chamberlain could also be philosophical about the fϋhrer’s coarse rhetoric and bullying, which he ascribed to poor breeding. However, the prime minister could not imagine anyone intentionally causing a second world war. In Chamberlain’s universe, people might be flawed, but they worried about their souls and did not set out to do monstrous things.

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