In this stunning novel, political insider Michael Dobbs brings alive the curmudgeon persona of Winston Churchill. It is 1941, a year of desperation for England battered by the war. Churchill has only one hope, that the U.S. will come to his country's aid, but Roosevelt is unable to do so because America is wedded to isolation.
The prime minister's agony is compounded by a very personal dilemma. Pamela, the wife of his dissolute son, Randolph, has fallen in love with FDR's special envoy to England, Averill Harriman. With England threatened by a German invasion and a desperate Russia devastated by the advancing Nazi onslaught, Churchill must convince America his cause is theirs. How he does so is so damning he will take the secret to his grave. Following his acclaimed Churchill novels Never Surrender and Churchill's Triumph, Dobbs' taut reimagining makes England's feisty prime minister jump off the page.
CHURCHILL AS NATURE INTENDED: Churchill's Hour can be warmly recommended. It is the third of a series of novels which, when finished, is likely to be Dobbs' greatest contribution to English fiction, eclipsing even the splendid Francis Urquhart trilogy. ... Dobbs captures his famous subject with artistry... With every stroke of his brush, Dobbs etches the character deeper into the memory. It is beautifully done.
Capre Libris Reviews Diane Kidman
One of the great perks of reading is having the ability to leap across the boundaries of time and space. How else could one ever have the opportunity to follow Winston Churchill, peak into his private life, and perhaps see how the famous old bear really lived? Michael Dobbs presents his readers with just such an opportunity, one that will help lend a whole new appreciation to the force of nature that was one of the heroes of World War II.
Written as a novel, Churchill's Hour: A Novel of Defiance drops you right into the turmoil that was Winston Churchill's daily life as he attempted to convince America to join in the war before Hitler swallowed England whole. Most people know the U.S. took convincing and that we hung back until the last possible moment, but I doubt many of us have ever seen the struggle from quite this angle before. It's a fascinating look at Churchill's tenacity and love of country.
Equally fascinating is the opportunity to peer into Churchill's personal life and get to know a little about those closest to him including members of his family, none of whom were near being perfect. His son fought with living in the shadow of one of the most controversial characters of the era. His daughter-in-law, with whom he was very close, began getting too comfortable with someone who wasn't her husband - someone Churchill knew and trusted. And Churchill himself had a bit too much of a relationship with the bottle at times. But despite his shortcomings and the painful distractions from his personal life, Winston Churchill changed the course of history. Churchill's Hour: A Novel of Defiance is a provocotive look into the man, one that gives us as readers the opportunity to traverse through time and stand face to face with a historical giant.
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August 01, 2008
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Excerpt from Churchill's Hour by Michael Dobbs
The bombers came early that evening. The warning sirens heralded a night of relentless torment, unusual even by the standards of Londoners. Winant, the American Ambassador, was with Churchill in the Cabinet Room of Number Ten. Both men tried to ignore the growing signs of advancing chaos, but eventually a great sigh escaped from Churchill.
"We must go. If I stay, others must stay. And I have promised Mrs. Churchill."
They both placed helmets on their heads and made their way out of the front door of the soot-streaked building, past tangles of barbed wire and sandbag pillboxes, until they came to the doorway that led to the underground complex of the Cabinet War Rooms. Here, buried beneath a three-foot thick concrete slab that had been reinforced with steel rods and tram tracks, the outside world ceased to exist. The air tasted of oil, the artificial light lent skin a pale and corpse-like hue, the noise of the ventilation system was constant and in the corner of the eye there always seemed to be the scurrying of rats.
"Forgive me, Gil, but I am forced to involve you in a childish deception. In order to calm her, I was forced to promise Mrs. Churchill that I would retire here as soon as the bombing started. I have done so. The bargain is honored, my word is redeemed." He forced himself to his feet. "And now we can go upstairs.
They emerged onto the roof of the Air Ministry. An observation post had been built out of sandbags and here they took shelter, gazing in awe at the power of the events unfolding around them.
Great pillars of fire stretched up from the searchlights, punching holes in the roof of the night sky. In the distance a single glowing ball was trailing smoke across the horizon, like a comet come to earth. Winant barely had time to wonder whether the crew had made it out before his eye was dragged away by the sights of other men dying out there, and women and children, too.
The American was watching London being tortured to death. And he knew this had happened most nights for months.
Churchill said something, but Winant couldn't hear; he moved closer. He could see tears trickling down his cheeks. Then he made out the words.
"When will it all end?"