John Charmley (born 1955) is a British diplomatic historian and a professor of modern history at the University of East Anglia, where he has been head of the School of History since 2001. Specialising in modern diplomatic and political history, Charmley's historical work has proved to be controversial, most notably his works on Churchill.
Views on World War II 
Charmley's scholarship on Churchill is to some extent the reverse of the standard academic opinion. He finds Churchill's early years powerful and compelling, but believes that Churchill's alternative to appeasement was unrealistic and his actions as Prime Minister in World War II were a failure. Charmley sees the resulting collapse of the British Empire and the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union as disastrous. Charmley appears to suggest Britain should have negotiated with Nazi Germany in 1940, that it would have been possible to do so honourably and that it would have safeguarded the British Empire better than an alliance with the anti-colonial U.S. President Roosevelt. Charmley does recommend "disengaging" from the war against Germany, and letting Stalin and Hitler whittle away each other's power rather than risk Britain's resources.
Charmley also believed that the strong government control of Britain that Churchill shepherded in also laid the groundwork for British socialism and Labour Party victories, events which he also considers undesirable. Charmley sums up his feelings in Churchill: The End of Glory with:
- Churchill stood for the British Empire, for British independence and for an 'anti-Socialist' vision of Britain. By July 1945 the first of these was on the skids, the second was dependent solely upon America and the third had just vanished in a Labour election victory.
Charmley also tried to rehabilitate Neville Chamberlain's reputation to a degree. F.M. Leventhal, in a review of Chamberlain and the Lost Peace, suggested that while Charmley's work portrayed a courageous leader with "a deep and humane desire to leave no stone unturned to avoid war", nonetheless, Chamberlain's inability to recognize Hitler's ambition meant that '[p]erhaps that is why Winston Churchill's reputation remains largely untarnished, while Chamberlain's, Charmley's initiative notwithstanding, cannot be resuscitated'.
Charmley's scholarship for parts of his early life has been acknowledged by some scholars, but most find his view of the British situation in World War II implausible at best. Many historians argue that the fall of the British Empire seems difficult to blame on Churchill, as events have proved that it would be exceedingly likely to fall anyway. Scholars also find the idea of a German truce unwise at best, considering that:
- Every serious military account of the Second World War shows that Germany came within a hair of taking Russia out even as it was. With no enemy at his back, tying up materiel and divisions in the West; without Britain's campaign in Africa; without the Americans and British succoring Stalin by sea; without Roosevelt's courting war with Germany in the Atlantic, Hitler would have thrown everything he had into Russia. The siege of Leningrad, the attack on Moscow, the battle of Stalingrad would almost certainly have gone the other way, if not in 1941 then certainly by 1942.
A more general critique of a German deal comes from Manfred Weidhorn:
- Prudential (albeit immoral) as that solution might have been, the critics assume that  Hitler would deal;  the British Coalition government would let Churchill deal;  Hitler would be faithful to the deal;  Russia would have gone under;  America would keep out;  The British Empire still had a long way to go;  a Britain tied to Hitler would have remained democratic;  American hegemony is bad. As Langworth, Smith, et al. point out, most of these Charmley assumptions (1-3, 6-8) are dubious.
The military historian Correlli Barnett regards Charmley's views as "absurd ... that instead of going to war Britain could, and should, have lived with Wilhelmine Germany's domination of western Europe. This is glibly clever but actually preposterous as his claim ... that Britain could and should have unilaterally withdrawn into neutrality in 1940-41".
Later Work 
Latterly, Charmley's research has moved back into the 19th Century where he has argued that Britain's entry into World War I was not the natural culmination of a particular tradition of British foreign policy but was, in fact, the result of misjudgements by Sir Edward Grey and other politicians; a view which some critics have found as controversial as his opinions about Churchill.
In 2005 he published a biographical study of the activities of the wife of the Russian ambassador to London during the Regency period, Princess Lieven, which argued the case for taking her seriously as a "female politician".
In 2008, Charmley published A History of the Conservative Party Since 1830. The book argues that historians have concentrated too much on Disraeli and Churchill and have ignored the alternative Conservative tradition represented by the earls of Derby.
Since 2001 Charmley has been head of the School of History at the University of East Anglia, where he is also currently head of the School of Music and Associate Dean for Enterprise and Engagement. In 2011 he became editor-in-chief of the journal History.
- John Charmley, Duff Cooper (Weidenfeld, 1986). ISBN 0-297-78857-4.
- John Charmley, Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire (Weidenfeld, 1987). ISBN 0-297-79205-9.
- John Charmley, Chamberlain and the Lost Peace (Hodder and Stroughton, 1989). ISBN 978-0-929587-33-2.
- John Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory (Hodder and Stroughton, 1993). ISBN 978-1-56663-247-8.
- John Charmley, Churchill's Grand Alliance 1940-1957 (Hodder and Stoughton, 1995). ISBN 978-0-15-127581-6.
- John Charmley, A History of Conservative Politics 1900-1996 (MacMillan, 1996). ISBN 0-333-72283-3.
- John Charmley, Splendid Isolation? Britain and the Balance of Power 1874-1914 (Hodder and Stroughton, 1999). ISBN 978-0-340-65791-1.
- John Charmley, "Chamberlain, Churchill and the End of Empire". In The Decline of Empires. (Wein, 2001). ISBN 3-7028-0384-X.
- John Charmley, "Palmerston: Artful old dodger or babe of grace?" In The Makers of British Foreigh Policy from Pitt to Thatcher. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). ISBN 0-333-91579-8.
- John Charmley, "What if Halifax had become Prime Minister in 1940?" In Prime Minister Portillo and Other Things that Never Happened: A Collection of Political Counterfactuals. (Portico's, 2003). ISBN 1-84275-069-0.
- John Charmley, "From Splendid Isolation to Finest Hour: Britain as a Global Power, 1900-1950". In The Foreign Office and British Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (Routledge, 2005). ISBN 0-7146-5679-8.
- John Charmley, The Princess and the Politicians: Sex, Intrigue and Diplomacy, 1812-40 (Viking, 2005). ISBN 0-670-88964-4.
- John Charmley, A History of Conservative Politics since 1830. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). ISBN 978-0-333-92973-5.
- John Charmley, "Unravelling Silk: Princess Lieven, Metternich and Castlereagh". In A Living Anachronism? European Diplomacy and the Habsburg Monarchy. (Bohlau: Vienna, 2010). pp. 15–29. ISBN 978-3-205-78510-1.
- John Charmley, "Neville Chamberlain and the Consequences of the Churchillian Hegemony". In Origins of the Second World War: An International Perspective. (Continuum, 2011). p. 448. ISBN 978-1-4411-6443-8.
- Maxwell P. Schoenfeld, 'Glorious Failure', Finest Hour 81.
- Richard M. Langworth, 'Elvis Lives: John Charmley's Tabloid Winston', Finest Hour 78.
- Manfred Weidhorn, 'Salvaging Charmley', Finest Hour 83, Second Quarter 1994.
- Correlli Barnett, The Verdict of Peace. Britain between her yesterday and the future (Pan, 2002), pp. 519-20.