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4.3 (4113)
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  • By Dr. JD Haslam on 11 March 2010

    I've been meaning to read a biography of Churchill for several years now, but been a little daunted by the 1000+ page single-volume options, let alone the multiple-volume ones. Then I came across this, thanks to a recommendation via an @albertmohler tweet, and thought I'd give it a go. I'm thrilled I did.I found Johnson's style immensely readable, unputdownable even, but his subject matter obviously helps. More than simply retelling the mere facts of Churchill's life, Johnson joined up the dots by explaining the great themes in his life and how these fit into the broader flow of history. Even though under 200 pages, Johnson managed to give a real flavour of who Churchill really was, including many wonderful anecdotes, so you feel you actually get to know him.I was fascinated at all Churchill managed to achieve with his life and, despite his flaws and failures, just how significant, influential, wise and essentially likeable he was. It was quite amazing to see how his former years seemed a perfect preparation for his successful leadership role during the war, how providential it was that such a man came to such a position at such a time. It seems very unlikely that the allies would have won the war without Churchill's many remarkable abilities at the core of the war effort. How different the world would be were it not for this solitary life.So, to conclude, I heartily recommend this book as a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable read.

  • By W.Sh. on 25 February 2010

    Paul Johnson surely can write good prose, old(ish) fashioned maybe, but he nevers lacks passion--though sometimes misplaced.To cover WSC's 90 years'of life in <200 pages is in itself a formidable task, Johnson handles well by taking the predictable route of sacrificing details with broadbrushing the major happenings. However he did use selected anecdotes to make his points, though readers of Johnson would recall that quite a few of these anecdotes have been used in his essay on Churchill in his earlier book, "Heroes".What slightly annoys me is that he seems to claim that he knew Churchill, which is an exaggeration, to say the least. (He cast a similar impression of "knowing" Bertrand Russell in his book "Intellectuals".) I assume Mr. Johnson is famous enough in his own right (as a acclaimed historian as well as a Catholic with some personal characters) that he doesn't need to enhance his fame by trying hard to display his acquaintance of other dignitaries. This will be all the more obvious if compared with Roy Jenkins, who sat in the Commons with Churchill for nearly 20 years yet still admitted that he didn't know the man. Johnson, however, is graceful enough to commend Jenkins' biography of Churchill as the best life story of the great man.In short, if you're not familiar with Churchill's life, you may learn a thing or two in a short time by going through this volume. If you're a keen reader of Churchill (his own words and those words about him), you won't miss too much by giving this book a pass.

  • By Adrenalin Streams on 5 November 2011

    This is a wonderful starter biography on Churchill. At only 192 pages in length it still manages to provide a clear view of Churchill's life whilst whetting your appetite for more weighty tomes on the subject. Paul Johnson has written this book for the American market and, although he does not stint from criticising Churchill at times, it is very much a pro-Churchill work. That does not make it a poor read; it just means you know where the author stands on the subject. In fact, the biography is pretty remarakable in that it achieves so much in such little space. Johnson covers all stages of Winston Churchill's life, applying a broad brush approach at times but also focusing on key moments, including excerpts from Churchill's speeches or writings to provide illumination and depth where appropriate. The technique works very well and the result is a beautifully crafted short biography which I would recommend to anyone with even a remote interest in Churchill's life.

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