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Last Updated on September 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 365

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874–1965)

Churchill was an English writer, soldier, and politician from a distinguished aristocratic family. He was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, the crucial period of World War II. His book The Second World War is a work of nonfiction based both on personal experience and substantial research.

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Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace and was a grandson of the Duke of Marlborough. The family was not only wealthy and of the highest ranks of the nobility but also had a long and distinguished tradition of political and military service. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, and grandfather were both members of Parliament, and his mother was a wealthy American heiress. Churchill had a career as a journalist and served in the army before being elected to Parliament and obtaining distinguished posts as home secretary, first lord of the admiralty, and chancellor of the exchequer before serving as prime minister. He was one of the earliest British politicians to be concerned about the rise of Hitler, and after the start of World War II, he provided inspirational leadership to the Allied forces in their fight against Hitler.

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)

Hitler was the German politician, leader of the Nazi Party, and dictator who is considered one of the great villains of twentieth century history. He became chancellor of Germany in 1933 and führer in 1934. He stayed in power until the Fall of Berlin, at which point he committed suicide. Under Hitler's rule, Germany swept across Europe as a conquering nation but committed numerous atrocities—including the Holocaust, the forced extermination of six million Jews. Hitler also targeted homosexuals and gypsies and created vast concentration camps where people were forced to labor and exterminated in gas chambers.

Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1869–1940)

Chamberlain was a British Conservative politician who was prime minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940, just before Churchill was elected. He is primarily remembered for his belief that it would be possible to appease Hitler and avoid war. Although he did finally declare war on Germany on September 3, 1939, many historians, including Churchill, consider his policy of appeasement misguided and believe it led to Britain being unprepared for the eventual war.

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