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The Last Lion Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 Hardcover – 30 May 1983


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 756 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (30 May 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316545031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316545037
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 5.1 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 782,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
Manchester is one of those writers who appears unable to disappoint. This is a book to be read and savored. For years, it sat on my shelf - I saw as a large undertaking that I wanted to do right.

The book has a very interesting structure. First, it begins with a kind of interpretive introduction to the man, vividly characterizing him while also evaluating his strengths as a man of history and his glaring weaknesses. You see him, worts and all, and it is both funny and enlightening. The psychological depth is virtually unprecedented in any other bio I have read. Second, you get a view both into his milieu - as an aristocrat of talent and privilege in Victorian Britain - and a biography of both of his parents. This is crucially important, as we come to see Churchill as an anachronism, but also as a boy neglected by narcissistic parents. (Interestingly, the absence of one or both parents is a common trait in extraordinary achievers.) Third, you get his life story, more from the events he was involved in than as an intimate portrait, though much of his personal life is covered. Indeed, he used action as the most effective tonic against depression.

The man that emerges is flawed and complex, but evidently a political genius. In my view, the key to his character is that he remained a Victorian gentleman, who viewed martial valor as the greatest source of meaning and glory in life. This suited him to titanic struggles, such as the one he faced with Hitler that places him in the ranks of the greatest historical figures. As an egotist, he always wanted to place himself at the center of events and yet did so with courage and tenacity in spite of his physical weaknesses. When out of power, he exercised other gifts, such as writing, with equal talent and energy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jan. 1997
Format: Hardcover
Manchester at his best, skillfully integrating the product of meticulous and exhaustive research with a literate and engaging portrait of one of the Twentieth Century's most important leaders. Had Churchill the ability to overcome his trademark philodoxia, he would admire and embrace the man who takes form under the masterful direction of Manchester. Flawed and quite human, Churchill's brilliance and impetuosity remind us of the special qualities of leadership which were England's secret weapons.

The difficulty of writing a biography of so daunting a character as Churchill is compounded by the status of the subject as an honored historian in his own right. While clearly admiring of Churchill, Manchester does not fall victim to the all too common tendency of modern biographers to apologia. Churchill's flaws, as well as his radiance, made him the invaluable model and beacon of hope which he became through his long and turbulent career. In this first volume of Manchester's planned multi-volume venture, the author follows his subject from birth through his extraordinary rise to the highest ranks of office, only to fall victim to the self-destructive behavior which led to the early demise of his father's career. Ending with his exile to the political wilderness, this first volume leaves the reader anxious to begin the second installment, a equally engaging account of Churchill's patient and vigilant efforts to rouse the conscience of the British people to the impending peril posed by Nazi Germany.

A must read for any serious student of history, and a compelling personal drama likely to capture the interest of anyone interested in the character of power.

Bravo!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Jun. 1999
Format: Hardcover
The enthusiasm Manchester shows for his subject is refreshing after a spate of anti-heroic books knocking Churchill a lot more than he deserved. However, when Manchester moves outside Churchill's life to general British history and politics of the age, there are many mistakes. He even called King Alfred the Great "legendary" in the index! Unforgivable! Top hats in Victorian England were originally worn by the working-class and by policemen, not the aristocracy. His treatment of the Chamberlian front bench - Halifax, etc. and the Baldwin-Chamberlian governments' rearmament policy - is simplistic, as is his knowledge of imperial politics in general. He has been too influenced by the "Guilty Men" mythology (Read "British Re-armament and the Treasury" to see what Chamberlian etc. were up against). However, Manchester knows his Churchill, and it is pleasant that he repeats some good things about him, such as (to take one small example among many larger ones)his concern to exculpate the driver when he was run over and badly injured by a car in America, and his general zest for life. Shows the legends about his drinking capacity were much exaggerated. Churchill, though he made mistakes, had a true greatness which the American Manchester is much more ready to acknowledge than are many of the sour and nihilistic intelligensia in Blair's Britain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 April 1999
Format: Hardcover
The introduction alone is some of the best prose ever written. I cannot recommend this book too highly. Hope there's a third in the series.
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