Books: Fate as Choice

ON BORROWED TIME by Leonard Mosley. 509 pages. Random House. $8.95.

The major defeat in any war is the fact that it started in the first place. Certainly, little that occurred during World War II seems more terrible in retrospect than the blunders that led up to it—not only at Versailles but during the deadly political charade that immediately preceded 1939. Neville Chamberlain tap-tapping to Munich with his umbrella, Hitler screaming hatred from peaceful Berchtesgaden—these cliché figures still have a power to disturb that few living villains can match.

British Journalist-Novelist Leonard Mosley (Hirohito:...

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