An acclaimed historian presents a revelatory look at the greatest statesman of the twentieth century
For eminent historian Paul Johnson, Winston Churchill remains an enigma in need of unraveling. Soldier, parliamentarian, Prime Minister, orator, painter, writer, husband, and leader--all of these facets combine to make Churchill one of the most complex and fascinating personalities in history.
In Churchill, Johnson applies a wide lens and an unconventional approach to illuminate the various phases of Churchill's career. From his adventures as a young cavalry officer in the service of the Empire to his role as an elder statesman prophesying the advent of the Cold War, Johnson shows how Churchill's immense adaptability combined with his natural pugnacity to make him a formidable leader for the better part of a century. Johnson's narration of Churchill's many triumphs and setbacks, rich with anecdote and quotation, illustrates the man's humor, resilience, courage, and eccentricity as no other biography before.
Winston Churchill's hold on contemporary readers has never slackened, and Paul Johnson's lively, concise biography will appeal to historians and general nonfiction readers alike.
In this enthusiastic yet first-rate biography, veteran British historian Johnson (Modern Times) asserts that Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was the 20th century's most valuable figure: "No man did more to preserve freedom and democracy...." An ambitious, world-traveling soldier and bestselling author, Churchill was already famous on entering Parliament in 1899 and within a decade was working with Lloyd George to pass the great reforms of 1908-1911. As First Lord of the Admiralty, he performed brilliantly in preparing the navy for WWI, but blame--undeserved according to Johnson--for the catastrophic 1915 Dardanelles invasion drove him from office. Within two years, he was back at the top, where he remained until the Depression. Johnson delivers an adulatory account of Churchill's prescient denunciations of Hitler and heroics during the early days of WWII, and views later missteps less critically than other historians. He concludes that Churchill was a thoroughly likable great man with many irritating flaws but no nasty ones: he lacked malice, avoided grudges, vendettas and blame shifting, and quickly replaced enmity with friendship. Biographers in love with their subjects usually produce mediocre history, but Johnson, always self-assured as well as scholarly, has written another highly opinionated, entertaining work. B&w photos. (Nov.)
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November 02, 2009
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