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On the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death, Boris Johnson celebrates the singular brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the 20th century. Taking on the myths and misconceptions along with the outsized reality, he portrays - with characteristic wit and passion - a man of contagious bravery, breathtaking eloquence, matchless strategizing, and deep humanity.
Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the king to stay out of action on D-Day; he pioneered aerial bombing and few could match his experience in organizing violence on a colossal scale, yet he hated war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was the most famous journalist of his time and perhaps the greatest orator of all time, despite a lisp and chronic depression he kept at bay by painting. His maneuvering positioned America for entry into World War II, even as it ushered in England's post-war decline. His open-mindedness made him a trailblazer in health care, education, and social welfare, though he remained incorrigibly politically incorrect. Most of all, he was a rebuttal to the idea that history is the story of vast and impersonal forces; he is proof that one person - intrepid, ingenious, determined - can make all the difference.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 01-29-15
I have been fascinated with Winston S. Churchill since I was a child. I try to read everything I can find about him. I was shocked to read in the book that the young people in Britain do not know who Churchill was. Johnson said he wanted to write about Churchill in such a manner as to bring Churchill to the attention of the young. Johnson thought the young might enjoy Churchill’s eccentricity.
This book is written by the current Mayor of London. The element of self-identification in Johnson’s writing is too obvious to ignore. This book is not just another biography. Rather, it is a series of polemics in which Johnson takes up the cudgels against Churchill’s critics.
One of the allegations against Churchill is that he wasn’t very nice to the little people in his life. That in private he was a mean-spirited and short tempered. Johnson relays a story to rebut this charge, told to him by Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson. Johnson also discusses the accusation that Churchill was an unprincipled opportunist and he also addresses the charge of incompetent leadership during World War One that led to Gallipoli. Johnson also discusses Churchill’s literary output and explains how Churchill managed to fit all this into a busy life.
Johnson has created a canvas of more than just World War II but also looks at Churchill’s contributions in the Boer War, WWI and the period leading up to the start of the European Union and shown how, at each point, Churchill’s contributions were essential to Britain’s victories or were ignored by those in power resulting in decisions that left Britain far worse off than it could have been. Johnson also addresses Churchill’s work on behalf of the working poor in the UK, his efforts to improve the living and working conditions of the poor throughout the British Empire.
The book is written with wit, and reveals fascinating nuggets of information I found fascinating. I believe Johnson has been successful in his defense of Churchill as a uniquely great man. Simon Shepherd narrated the book.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
By W Perry Hall on 12-16-14
If you appreciate History but aren't its lover
This is a near-flawless book in measuring, in an erudite yet conversational manner, the near-majesty of a man who played a leading role (arguably the leading part) in maintaining the course of the free world and altering evil in the 20th Century. I was hesitant, but Mr. Johnson was able to draw me into his scholarly chat, unlike the historians who can cure any insomniac.
I highly recommend this audiobook.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful