I read Mitford's "Best of Enemies" and realized it was based on this book (among others) for crucial assumptions. So I purchased this, and then I realized I already had Ponting's "World History", which I had read in 2002 or whereabouts and forgotten. So I reread it and then the one I'm reviewing.
Well, this product reinforced the impression I had of P. as an 'angry young man' (irrespective of his age). But, unlike the other one, I found this to be truly illuminating. I know (or better, have read) a lot, but really a lot, about WW1, WW2 and European history, and didn't find a single mistake in what P. wrote. What I can't vouch for are the accuracy of the quotations and their lack of bias.
It seems to me, for example, that P.'s out to cut Churchill ("Ch.") back to size. That Ch. in his war memoirs wrote for his historic persona is undeniable, and indeed unavoidable: I doubt that anybody can write impartially of himself. But that goes for Chamberlain and Halifax too. As 'pacifists', no doubt they wouldn't have wanted to be alone and thus would have tended to depict Ch. as hesitating in the grim moments of French defeat in the spring of 1940. So their memories and notes are apt to be embellished, too. I can't believe that Ch., the arch-imperialist, would have accepted, as P. in p. 107 implies without stating it explicitly, to cede Gibraltar, Malta and Suez, three of the four keys to India, or said, as stated (?) in Chamberlain's diary that "if we could get out of this jam by giving up Malta and Gibraltar and some African colonies, he would jump at it". Well, why didn't he? Surely Hitler, to bring about peace with England, would have restrained Mussolini, as he did in the case of the French (which had been after all utterly defeated) and their colonies. So I don't find that part of the book clinches P.'s case. Also, I find he equivocates. Thus in p. 108 he writes: "Ch. argued in favour, not of continuing the war until victory, but to try to get through the next two or three months before making a decision on whether or not to ask for peace". But what of what he is claimed to have said in p. 107? It's a fact that, after Dunkirk, Hitler offered peace in his Reichstag speech, although obviously without mentioning terms. I don't believe the British Government, if willing, would have been unable to find a circuitous enough route to ask whether Germany and Italy were willing to offer terms, without compromising itself.
P. is sometimes also repetitive. But, as he says in p. 97, we'll have to wait "until well into the 21st C" for some Government papers to be available and thus settle the matter.
Good book. Read it if you are interested in 20th C European history.