Customer Reviews


8 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Churchill in context
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...
Published on 24 May 2011 by rob crawford

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiasm marred by errors.
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...
Published on 28 Jun 1999


Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Churchill in context, 24 May 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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.

Nonetheless, Manchester proves that Churchill was not a politician deeply in touch with his constituency: he never developed a typical base of power and often his views did not synch with the mainstream. Without Hitler, his hour might never have arrived: this duality is a theme that runs through the entire book.

If there is any flaw here, it is that Manchester includes a plethora of detail, not only about world events but in Churchill's political maneuverings. Normally, I delight in these details, if I know there is a purpose to all of it, which I did not always sense in this book. (Here a comparison with Robert Caro is instructive: you always know where he is going and why.) Others may see it differently, of course. Also, many of the historical details I already knew, so did not need Manchester's wordy introductions, but they were useful in the many cases of which I was ignorant.

All in all, this is one of the most engrossing and fascinating bios I have ever read. Warmly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiasm marred by errors., 28 Jun 1999
By A Customer
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An objective Churchill would have devoured this volume!, 15 Jan 1997
By A Customer
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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous!, 23 April 1999
By A Customer
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An immense experience in reading, 17 Aug 1998
By A Customer
William Manchester has done a remarkable job of weaving together an incredibly fascinating story. Churchill's experiences, friends and family, habits, strong points (which are many), faults (which are also many but far short of his strengths), and moods all combine to make him ont of the most fascinating persons ever to walk the earth. Read the intro, and you'll be hooked!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography about a fascinating man., 28 Nov 1997
By A Customer
The biography in interesting and reads like current events. He captures the essence of the great man. It is hard to put the book down. He throughly explains Churchill's childhood and how that influenced him later in life. He also captures Churchill's dynamic, adventurous life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars All Manchester needs is a subject- and here is a Great one, 20 April 1999
By A Customer
A truly great subject- Churchill- and one of the best non-fiction writers of the century combine here. It is a long book, but you'll go cover to cover. Manchester doesn't just take you to Churchill, his writing will take you into the time and places of Churchill.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 27 Jan 1997
By A Customer
Certainly not for the faint of heart. The book is long, and at times arduous, but if you're a fan of Churchill's, or appreciate a well-written book on a fascinating man, I highly recommend this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Winston Churchill 1:Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill - Visions of Glory, 1874-1932
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews