The British Chiefs of Staff were first requested for guidance on post-war strategy in February 1942. From then until victory in Europe, this was given by a series of teams specially created, as the regular planning machinery was almost totally preoccupied with the task of winning the war.
Changing Direction records the gradual transition from planning against any post-war resurgence of German and Japanese militarism to preparations against a possible threat from the Soviet Union. It charts in detail Foreign Office resistance to consideration of even the possibility of Soviet hostility after the war, and records military insistence on examining that potential danger.
Light is thrown on the revolution in strategic thinking wrought by the development of atomic and biological weapons of mass destruction. Material of the greatest sensitivity is seen to have passed through the hands of at least two pro-Soviet sympathisers; and contemporary Top Secret documents, not meant for declassification under the '30-year rule', are drawn upon to trace fully for the first time the evolution of Britain’s post-war nuclear and conventional strategy at the beginning of the Cold War.
When Changing Direction was first published, its findings were described as 'path-breaking' and 'sensational'. This greatly expanded Second Edition, based on newly released files, now covers post-war strategic deception, anti-Soviet intelligence and covert British contacts with the Americans. It finally disposes of the charge that Churchill intended to use anthrax against Germany in 1944, and tells the full story of Operation 'UNTHINKABLE' – his plan for a possible war with Russia in 1945.
Changing Direction is likely to remain the standard work of reference on this period both for scholars and for the wider public.
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