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Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45 Paperback – 2 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007263686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007263684
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Max Hastings is the author of twenty-five books, many of them about war. He was educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he quit after a year to become a journalist. Thereafter he reported for newspapers and BBC TV from sixty-four countries and eleven conflicts, notably the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Vietnam and the 1982 Battle for the Falklands. Between 1986 and 2002 he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and for his books, most recently the 2012 Chicago Pritzker Library's $100,000 literary award for his contribution to military history, and the RUSI's Westminster Medal for his international best-seller 'All Hell Let Loose'.

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Review

'One of the best books ever written about Churchill … Hastings's efficient, soldierly prose marches along at a brisk pace and carries the reader with it. He has drawn on copious original sources and consulted experts familiar with them, enabling him to cast fresh light on familiar episodes … a magnificent performance.' Sunday Times

'The book's portrait of Churchill is scrupulously fair and often deeply moving … in fact Hastings excels with all his character portraits, especially with Roosevelt and Stalin. Hastings is truly a master of strategy and high command.' Antony Beevor, Mail on Sunday

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4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Levine on 16 Sep 2009
Format: Hardcover
What more is there to say about Churchill? There is certainly no shortage of books, biographies, autobiographies and histories written about Britain's wartime leader.
Hastings seeks to show how Churchill was so crucial to the eventual Allies' victory in World War II in spite of his well known faults.
Although largely a praising work, Finest Years does lay bare faults, such as his impetuous addiction to (usually disastrous) raids and smaller operations for Britain's over-stretched forces.
But overall Hastings finds that Churchill's personality, drive and charisma were crucial in securing overall victory.
He argues persuasively that it was Churchill, who, in the dark days of 1940, had the resolve to continue the fight when all other alternative premieres were advocating coming to an accord with the Nazis.
In a time when Britain and its Empire was viewed with suspicion and even hate by many Americans, his courting of their good opinions through well received visits was important in putting the case for entering the war across.
Churchill's strategic judgement, often criticised, is also praised - he saw very early that the only way to victory was by the US entering the conflict, and also, as a famed hater of Bolshevism, he swallowed his pride, endured many insults and double dealing, and supported the Russians.
Hastings puts forward an argument that it was only Churchill who was equipped to lead Britain to victory - and it is hard to argue with him.
I don't think it shows us an awful lot new, but Hastings brings his considerable judgement to bear on this time to excellent effect.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Michael Shimmin on 1 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
An intimate and compelling look at the man who almost certainly was responsible for Britain and the Empire continuing to fight when the possibility of victory must have seemed extremely remote and, to the man in the street, invasion likely.
It is interesting to speculate whether Hitler ever seriously contemplated invasion, he certainly demonstrated he was capable of reckless gambles but they were when German power was broken, he showed no such inclination in the early years and confessed "on land I am a hero, at sea I am a coward".
The book sheds light on Churchill's thought processes and I believe indicates that Churchill, correctly, thought that invasion was not on the cards but was a useful bogeymen to motivate the population post Dunkirk. It probably was his finest hour.
It reveals Churchill's psychological inability to deal with being demoted to number three in the Roosevelt/Stalin/Churchill triumvirate and indeed the failings that make him human.
Well written and researched. I found nothing in it that I believe to be factually incorrect which is more than can be said for many books on the Second World War, but perhaps no more than one would expect from an author of the standing of Max Hastings
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann Clarke on 13 Feb 2010
Format: Hardcover
Enjoyed the book, it was informative and kept my interest to the end. Whilst we all know that Churchill was far from perfect, on balance I thought the book did play to his downsides although I accept that due credit was given to the rare gifts of the man to inspire.

I am British although I now live most of my time in the USA, I purchased the book as I was interested in his relationship with Roosevelt and Stalin and his perception as a leader abroad. However, during the reading of this book, his relationships at home, those with his generals, Government and the British people, made me curious to read more about the war years and history of that time from a purely British perspective. So if nothing else the book has inspired me to research further specifics and I realized that I was not as well informed as I thought on this period of history.

Although I was born many years after the war, this period in our history is important and with all his faults Churchill still remains inspirational and a leader to be proud of.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Haines on 8 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have long admired Max Hastings approach and style of writing. He takes subjects and following obviously long and detailed research, creates a work that details and highlights historical events with clarity and considered judgement. The subject of Winston Churchill must have been a mammoth undertaking, given the wealth of material available. Although I have not read any other book in WSC and this period, this book takes you into all the challenges he faced at the time. It has made me reconsider the British relationship with the USA and made me fully understand some of the major events that led to the way Europe developed in the post war period. A really good read, and enlightening.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Maxwell Stone on 16 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book which is actually three narratives weaved into one. The first is the Churchill story which many readers will be familiar with, particularly if you've read another account such as Roy Jenkins' biography. However, the difference here is that it centres solely on the Second World War which is undoubtedly the most compelling part of Churchill's life.
The second concerns the story of Britain's home front - from the machinations of other politicians to the lives of ordinary Britons. This is fascinating because it describes aspects of our history which many writers overlook. Numerous aspects of those times resonate with today's society - spin, political plots, public cynicism and economic unrest.
The third narrative, which for me was the most interesting, concerns Britain's relationship with its principal allies. Whilst we may be familar with the frosty Anglo-Soviet diplomacy of that era Hastings provides an illuminating account of Britain's relationship with America. This shows that the so called 'special relationship' was always a British aspiration rather than a political reality. The truth is that the Americans pursued policies which suited their national interests and Britain benefited when our interests converged.
I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the areas I've touched on and reiterate the point that the politics of that era cast a shadow into the affairs of the 21st Century.
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