Munich by Robert Harris
Like other fine historical novels Munich is part thriller and part examination of a seminal period of the twentieth century. Set in 1938 when the world was on the brink of war and desperate to avoid it. Adolf Hitler threatened to attack Czechoslovakia over what was subsequently called the Sudetenland that bordered Germany and contained a large proportion of German speakers. It also, coincidentally, included most Czech border defenses, banking and heavy industrial districts.
The book revolves around the efforts, championed by British prime minister Neville
Chamberlain, to appease Hitler and avoid war through the eyes of one German and one British mid level assistant who happened to attend Oxford together prior to the current tensions. Ultimately an agreement is reached in late September, 1938, signed by Germany, France, Britain and Italy known as the Munich agreement. Czechoslovakia wasn’t included. Chamberlain was seen as a hero and declared “peace in our time”. This is the point where the book ends and all in all is a sympathetic view of appeasement.
Even those that aren’t history buffs will enjoy this fast paced read.
By the way, Hitler attacked and occupied Czechoslovakia six months later. History hasn’t been quite so kind to Chamberlain. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Review by Bob