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Churchill Paperback – 25 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: PENGUIN USA; Reprint edition (25 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143117998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143117995
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. JD Haslam on 11 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this biography of less than 200 pages, Paul Johnson has somehow managed to provide a remarkably comprehensive discussion of one of the most complicated, active, and productive public figures who ever lived. It is incredible to me what Winston Churchill accomplished, even taking into full account the fact that he lived for 90 years (30 November 1874 - 24 January 1965). He spent 55 of them as a member of Parliament, 31 as a minister, and nearly nine as prime minister. He was present at or fought in 15 battles, and was awarded 14 campaign medals for bravery, some with multiple clasps. He had been a prominent figure in the First World War and a dominant one in the Second. He eventually published more than ten million words and painted more than five hundred canvasses of significant quality. He was a member of the Royal Society, a Royal Academician, a university chancellor, a Nobel laureate (literature), a Knight of the Garter, and a member of the Order of Merit.

What can be learned from a life such as this? Johnson suggests these five lessons:

"The first lesson is: always aim high...He did not always meet his elevated targets, but by aiming high he always achieved something worthwhile. Lesson number two: there is no substitute for hard work...The balance he maintained between flat-out work and creative and restorative leisure is well worth study by anyone holding a top position. But he never evaded hard work itself: taking important and dangerous decisions, the hardest form of work there is, in the course of a sixteen-hour day...

"Third and in its way most important, Churchill never allowed mistakes, disaster - personal or national - accidents, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism to get him down.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. WEI on 25 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on 5 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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