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Ministers at War

Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet, 1940-1945

Jonathan Schneer

June 1940: France has fallen and Great Britain is the only nation left standing between Nazi Germany and total domination of Europe. Faced by the greatest possible crisis, Winston Churchill’s emergency coalition government must lead the way.

In this illuminating and engrossing work, award-winning historian Jonathan Schneer draws on original research to disclose, for the first time, the inner machinations of Britain’s wartime government. Dispelling the popular myth that the War Cabinet constituted an unbreakable ‘band of brothers’, Schneer reveals that they were in fact a ‘team of rivals’, steeped in quarrels, power plays, unexpected alliances and intrigue. Beyond the war itself, Ministers at War traces how the prospect of peace saw this ensemble of political titans fall apart, ultimately paving the way for a unified, progressive government and the birth of the welfare state.

  • Publication date: March 10, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780748320
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 352


‘Scholarly, yet grippingly readable’


‘Lucid and compelling… both scholarly and entertaining’ 

Literary Review

’Refreshing… brings a different eye and perspective… highly readable’

BBC History, lead review

‘Insightful… Schneer has done a wonderful job’ 

Good Book Guide

‘Very timely.. gripping and a pleasure to read’ 

Press Association

'A smoothly written and insightful examination of the men who aided Churchill during the years fraught with danger from the Nazi war machine. For most readers, this will be a book that cannot be put down until the last page is reached. An exceptional history on an extremely important topic, which should be acquired by all libraries.'

Library Journal

'A striking look inside the British government during a time when some of the most interesting characters of a challenging era were fighting for both the nation's salvation and their own ambitions. Churchill's role as a wartime leader is well-known from a myriad of histories, but this is one of the best recent treatments of his role as a head of government. Clear, thoroughly entertaining and full of lively detail.'

Kirkus Reviews

‘An engrossing account of how Churchill led his ministry during the Second World War, a team of rivals who never forgot politics however great the peril to the nation. Jonathan Schneer treats his larger-than-life subjects with great scholarship and shrewdness.’

Andrew Roberts F.R.S.A., bestselling author of Napoleon: A Life

'Jonathan Schneer's gripping account of Churchill and the men who worked with him during World War II succeeds in casting new light on a familiar subject. This is popular history at its best.'

Richard Toye, Professor of History, University of Exeter

‘Like Abraham Lincoln before him, Winston Churchill proved himself a great war leader, as everyone knows. But Jonathan Schneer’s achievement is to show us how Churchill too had to work with “a team of rivals” in his own war cabinet. It is a story told with great assurance and studded with vivid personal detail.’ 

Peter Clark, author of Mr. Churchill’s Profession

‘Written with brio and a rich command of the sources, Jonathan Schneer tells the fascinating and comparatively neglected story of Winston Churchill's Grand Coalition Cabinet of Tories, Labour, and Liberals, the political leaders who played crucial roles in winning the war against Hitler. Not surprisingly, they were also from time to time at war against one another and the Prime Minister. Churchill, despite his flaws, still emerges as the hero essential for the saving of Britain and her allies. This is a deeply insightful and important contribution to the understanding of the most important event of the twentieth century.’ 

Peter Stansky, Stanford University

Jonathan Schneer

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