Churchill's Bunker (Paperback)
The Cabinet War Rooms and the Culture of Secrecy in Wartime London
Yale University Press, 9780300177480, 256pp.
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
“This is the room from which I will direct the war,” Churchill declared upon seeing the dank storage basement in an improbably central location near the Houses of Parliament. The chambers would become his base of operations during the heaviest enemy bombardment of London. In Churchill’s Bunker, distinguished Churchill biographer Richard Holmes provides the first comprehensive history of the Cabinet War Rooms, from which Churchill managed to turn a seemingly inevitable defeat at the hands of the Nazis into a victory for the free world.
Here was the Map Room that charted the advances and retreats of armies, the locations of warships, and the often painful progress of the convoys that kept the nation supplied with munitions. Here the planners worked on future operations and the intelligence staff pondered the enemy’s next moves. And remarkably, all of this highly charged work was known only to those who needed to know.
Drawing on a wealth of original material, including new firsthand accounts of the people who lived and worked there, Holmes reveals how and why the bunker and its war machine developed, how life was conducted in a realm where “only the clock told whether it was night or day and . . . an electric bell gave warning of an air-raid,” and how Churchill interacted with his staff in very close quarters. A unique exploration of the calculus of secrecy during the Second World War, Churchill’s Bunker provides an intimate portrait of Churchill and his closest advisors in one of the most fascinating and underexplored venues of twentieth-century history.