Item description for Winston Churchill (Penguin Lives) by John Keegan...
Outline ReviewHe was something of a bully, something of a blowhard, without friends and always in search of a sympathetic audience for his monologues. Yet, writes John Keegan in this slender but thorough portrait, Winston Churchill was unquestionably the right man for the time.
Few biographers are better equipped than Keegan, the eminent military historian, to write of Churchill as a wartime leader. Indeed, Keegan suggests, Churchill was never more at ease than when confronting some fierce enemy, whether across the English Channel or a range of Afghan hills; it was from the saddle that he developed his "vision of how an enlightened empire might transform the future of mankind." The rise of other, less enlightened empires helped put an end to his own, but Churchill steadfastly insisted on a strong role for Great Britain in the postwar world--in which he succeeded, even if voters turned him out of office almost as soon as the war ended.
Keegan's respectful portrait assesses Churchill's many accomplishments (and a few noteworthy failures) as he sought, in Churchill's ringing words, to "resist oppression, to protect the weak, to vindicate the profound but unwritten Law of Nations." Admirers of Churchill and students of his time will find much of value in these pages. --Gregory McNamee
Product Description When today's world leaders need inspiration and strength in times of crisis, they often turn to Winston Churchill, quoting him and citing his heroic example. The son of a member of Parliament, Churchill, a poor academic student, wanted to be a soldier early in life. But after he escaped from a South African prison camp, his national fame catapulted him into a life of politics.
In this Penguin Life, the eminent historian John Keegan charts Churchill's career, following his steadfast leadership during the catastrophic events of World War II while England was dangerously poised on the brink of collapse. With wonderful eloquence, Keegan illuminates Churchill's incredible strength during this crucial moment in history and his unshakable belief that democracy would always prevail. Keegan looks at Churchill's speeches, which are some of the greatest examples of English oratory, and identifies his ability to communicate his own idea of an English past as the source of Churchill's greatness. He also sheds light on the political climate of Churchill's time. The result is an insightful, sensitive portrait of Churchill the war leader and Churchill the man.
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Studio: Viking Adult
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.78" Width: 5.48" Height: 0.77" Weight: 0.66 lbs.
Release Date Oct 31, 2002
Publisher Viking Adult
ISBN 0670030791 ISBN13 9780670030798 UPC 051488019954
Availability 0 units.
More About John Keegan
John Keegan was for many years senior lecturer in military history at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and has been a fellow at Princeton University and a visiting professor of history at Vassar College. He is the author of twenty books, including the acclaimed The Face of Battle and The Second World War. He lived in Wiltshire, England until his death in 2012.
John Keegan currently resides in Wiltshire. John Keegan was born in 1934.
John Keegan has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Winston Churchill (Penguin Lives)?
You Don't Have To Like Him, But You Have To Respect Him Jan 9, 2008
I've never been a big fan of Winston Churchill, but after reading esteemed historian John Keegan's succinct biography of the man, I must say that I like AND respect him just a little bit more. Keegan himself confesses that he never thought much of old Winston until he stumbled across an old recording of his speeches (in NYC of all places) and realized what a gifted and inspirational orator and leader he was. He led his beloved Britain through her darkest hours in modern history, to a victory that was anything but assured. The people seemed to genuinely love him, and his sentiment was seemingly mutual.
His years as Prime Minister during WW2 are the most well known, but Churchill led an amazingly full life, and his life of public service began way back in the late 19th century. Keegan describes how the young Winston, who did poorly in school, but had an undeniable intelligence, educated himself in politics, history and the English Classics. He was a romantic who was in love with his small island nation, and he dedicated his life to it. He was a brave soldier who served in numerous wars, including WW1, and while it would be fair to say he was a little too fond of war, he was no different from the average English officer of the time in this regard. In my eyes, his major fault was his hypocrisy. It just seems hard to reconcile his staunch imperialism with his constant talk about the virtues of freedom and liberty, and how Britain was the main proponent of such things. I would have liked for Keegan to address this point a bit more, but for such a short biography, I can let it slide.
I was intrigued to learn that Churchill and IRA founder Michael Collins were on friendly terms and greatly admired each other. In fact, Churchill apparently had a "gut sympathy for fighters" which is why he had more respect for the Irish and Boers of South Africa than he did for Ghandi and his passive movement in India.
Anyways, the book is extremely well written and entertaining, and I found it to be an overall excellent introduction to the life of one of the most important figures of the 20th century. 4.5 stars.
A superb introduction to the story of Sir Winston Churchill Oct 21, 2006
In 1895 when his father died, the sickly and indifferent 21-year-old military cadet Winston Churchill was flat broke, the legacy of a father who was a compulsively extravagent wastrel.
Lord Randolph had been syphilitic since early youth. His mother, American-born Jennie Jerome whose father was a stockbroker and part-owner of 'The New York Times', was always attracted to men other than her husband or her sons (Winston, born 1874, and John Spencer, born 1880). In modern terms, they were trailer trash; in Phoenix, Sheriff Joe would have set aside a bunk in his tent-city jail for Winston.
But, instead of slums, Winston was born and brought up in Blenheim Palace, built 1704-22 and still one of the great estates of England. American ex-presidents get palatial libraries as their memorials; the British rewarded their leaders with mansions and great estates. Blenheim Palace was one of the finest, far better than the estates later awarded to Nelson and Wellington.
Perhaps it was the milieu of Blenheim Palace, but Churchill matured into a man absolutely convinced of the majesty of the British virtues of patriotism, loyalty, courage and fair play. For him, being British meant manliness, courage, tenacity and ultimate moral decency. It resonated with the vigorous American spirit of Theodore Roosevelt and the beauty of the strenuous life.
President George Bush is reported to keep a bust of Churchill in the Oval Office; perhaps as a reminder of the complete contrast to himself. Bush ducked the Vietnam War in the Texas Country Club Air Guard; Churchill eagerly sought war, even though he hated it.
Like Ulysses S. Grant, Churchill was a gifted wordsmith instead of a stumblebum. He free-lanced as a journalist while serving as a British officer and was sometimes earning 20 times his military pay. He never stopped learning, he wanted facts, order, reason. His mother sent him crates of books while he was on duty, and he devoured them all.
Gen. Sir Herbert Kitchener described him as a "medal-hunter" and "self-advertiser" who was "super-precocious" and "insufferably bumptious." It was a good assessment. But, the public loved his books and even the Prince of Wales praised him. Whatever one thinks of Churchill, his career and successes are due to his own effort, intelligence, work and nerve.
In brief, this is the story of a man who might well have ended up as a Soho souse, but instead became the greatest man of the past century. He did it through his own efforts, not because of Daddy's friends, money or ability to pull strings.
This book defines the character of a great man.
Excellent Brief Bio Sep 11, 2006
Doubtless this biography is insufficient to really understand Churchill, but for those who are fairly ignorant of the man, it provides a useful quick sketch, and perhaps a jumping off point for further reading.
A truly nice little biography of a great man Mar 14, 2006
Let me make clear at the outset that I am no historian. Indeed, I wouldn't even qualify as an amateur historian. I am just your average 30-something fairly ignorant reader living a period of love for more or less recent history. Given this premise, I found this little book quite perfect for what I was looking for.
This is a short, entertaining, and VERY well written biography of one of the greatest men in the 20th century. Because of the serious limits of my knowledge on the subject, I certainly cannot judge on the accuracy of the reports. However, to the best of my knowledge, the author is considered a reputable WWII historian. Indeed I liked this book so much that I also purchased his history of WWII. You can read this book in a day, and it will entertain you like a good novel, while also informing you as few novels would do.
I would not pay too much attention to those reviewers that complain about this book not delving into Churchill's shortcomings as a man or as a politician. This is a very small book, about 190 small-format pages. You can hardly expect a comprehensive treatise from such a book. Also, I suspect that emphasizing Churchill's shortcomings would be like emphasizing Hitler's moments of tenderness with his lovers or with some German children during the Nazi regime. I mean, they surely happened, but it's not what you want to spend pages on, if you have only limited space to devote to the topic, isn't it? Besides, even if the Churchill that emerges from this book is certainly a truly great man, he does not emerge as a perfect great man. To me that was enough, and I am glad I read this book.
I am grateful to the author, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a short, beautifully written biography of this man, to whom I certainly owe something...
"Publishers Weekly" is Mistaken Nov 1, 2005
Publisher's Weekly is entirely mistaken, in their comments above, in suggesting that Sir Winston Churchill once belonged to the Labour Party.
He never did, of course.
Churchill did, however, cross the floor to join the Liberal Party, often making common cause there with his Liberal ally David Lloyd George. He left the Liberals and returned to the Conservative Party (at first, as a "Constitutionalist") in the 1920's...