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Churchill: A Biography (2001)

de Roy Jenkins

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1,643147,773 (3.95)20
"Winston Churchill is an icon of modern history, but even though he was at the forefront of the political scene for almost sixty years, he might be remembered only as a minor player in the drama of British government had it not been for World War II. In this magisterial book, Roy Jenkins's command of the political history of Britain and his own high-level government experience combine in a narrative account of Churchill's astounding career that is unmatched in its shrewd insights, its unforgettable anecdotes, the clarity of its overarching themes, and the author's nuanced appreciation of his extraordinary subject."--BOOK JACKET.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 14 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This book took me a long ass time to read, maybe 2 years. Its mostly a description of all the parliamentary work he did, in order, in detail. Somehow this was stupendously interesting to read. I don't really understand how, but it was. Would recommend. ( )
  Giganticon | Dec 8, 2020 |
Easily my favourite Churchill biography - I've read at least six over the years. There's not too much on his personal life, but you get a real sense of the complexity and old imperialist character of the man. Well written too. ( )
  GeneBrooker | Oct 12, 2020 |
A satisfying and provoking read. ( )
  Mithril | Aug 8, 2018 |
This magnificent big biography of the great Prime Minister and war leader, written by the former Labour Cabinet member and Social Democratic Party founder Roy Jenkins, was the British Book Awards Best Biography of the Year in 2003. It is political and personal biography as its very best, beautifully written and covering all aspects of the colourful life of Churchill, which packed in more incident, especially on the political and literary fronts, then any other figure during the twentieth century. His magnificent leadership during the Second World War is of course rightly lauded, but there was so much more to him than this: his early military and journalistic experiences in the Boer War; his Cabinet career as quite a radical Liberal President of the Board of the Trade in the reforming 1906-10 Liberal Government; his dramatic changes of party from Conservative to Liberal in 1904 and back to Conservative in 1924, holding very high offices in Liberal and Conservative Cabinets, e.g. as a Liberal Home Secretary and a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer; and as a Liberal First Lord of the Admiralty in the First World War and a Conservative First Lord of the Admiralty at the beginning of the Second World War, before the crisis of confidence caused by Chamberlain's wretched appeasement policy led to Churchill's assuming the pinnacle of his power and influence on the world stage. His loss of office in the Labour landslide of the 1945 General Election was for him shockingly unexpected and, in hindsight it would no doubt have been better for him had he retired from front line politics at that point (he was already 70). But he was motivated to continue as Leader of the Opposition due to his fears of the encroaching influence of the Soviet Union in central and Eastern Europe and his belief that only a strong Anglo-American alliance could combat this; in fact this was also the policy of Attlee's Government. He was also very involved in founding and supporting some of the earliest European institutions that later became the embryonic EC (though most modern Conservatives would be reluctant to admit this!). Churchill's return to power in 1951 made him a Prime Minister at 77, something which is pretty much unthinkable now, but after a couple of reasonable years, when his main driving force was horror of the H Bomb and a desire to reach some kind of understanding with the Soviet Union, his health deteriorated when he had a major stroke in the summer on 1953. After this, the author's recounting of his clinging to power for another year and a half makes for unedifying reading and one feels sorry both for Churchill as a human being and for his Cabinet colleagues having to work with him in this state; only his enormous prestige made his continuation in office even plausible. After his retirement in April 1955, the remaining near decade of his life was dominated by lengthy stays in southern France and Italy and in Mediterranean cruises on Aristotle Onassis's yacht; yet despite these absences and detachment from life in Britain, he remained an MP, even after a fall in 1962 which incapacitated him, almost until his death, standing down at the dissolution of Parliament in summer 1964 before the General Election that saw Labour returned with a small majority, and dying in January 1965. The biography also extensively covers Churchill's prodigious and mostly high quality literary output over a period of some 60 years, and his love of and talent for painting, demonstrating what a genuine polymath he was. A remarkable biography of a remarkable statesman. ( )
  john257hopper | Oct 9, 2014 |
This is an epic book about an almost unbelieveable life, a classic case of fact being stranger than fiction - you couldn't make it up. His early life is the stuff of a boy's own adventure story, dashing across the british empire fighting natives, being captured by the Boer and escaping.



The politics could be rather dull and confusing to someone not really interested in the mire of modern politics, but Jenkins manages to make this somehow slightly noble! The parties and Churchill's floor crossings are explained as are the big issues of the day.



The second world war period - for which, I suppose he is most associated - does not dominate the book. Of the 46 chapters, 12 are devoted to this period of years. It also goes a long way to describing how his life to date had uniquly prepared him for exactly that time in history. It is un-nerving to think what would have happened had he not been in the right place at the right time.



My only critisism is that the book ends, almost abruptly, at Churchill's death. I know a biography usually ends with the death of the subject, but I can't help feeling it might have been nice to have a summary chapter, maybe discussing his legacy.



Jenkins' text is a delight to read, extremely erudite and with a wonderfully wide vocabulary. At approaching 1000 pages, paperback maybe isn't the best format for this book. After 1 read, the spine of my new copy is intact, but the front cover is looking distinctly dog-eared. ( )
1 vota Helenliz | Mar 31, 2013 |
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"Winston Churchill is an icon of modern history, but even though he was at the forefront of the political scene for almost sixty years, he might be remembered only as a minor player in the drama of British government had it not been for World War II. In this magisterial book, Roy Jenkins's command of the political history of Britain and his own high-level government experience combine in a narrative account of Churchill's astounding career that is unmatched in its shrewd insights, its unforgettable anecdotes, the clarity of its overarching themes, and the author's nuanced appreciation of his extraordinary subject."--BOOK JACKET.

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