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4.0 out of 5 stars Dinner party diplomacy, 1 Jan 2013
This review is from: Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table: The Prime Minister's Tabletop Diplomacy (Hardcover)
This is an entertaining look at Churchill's `dinner party diplomacy': the way in which he used dinners, meals, and food as political weapons.

The author has done a very full job of uncovering the details of dinners, including menus, seating plans and, to some extent, atmosphere and intention. The dinners during the war are, inevitably, the most interesting: Churchill's dinner with Stalin in his Kremlin apartment; the ceremonial dinners given at Yalta by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin; the meeting at Potsdam in July 1945, and the dining that went with it. I especially enjoyed some of the anecdotes e.g. Churchill's villa at Yalta was rather short of bathing facilities so that generals and admirals had to queue in their dressing gowns for their morning wash and shave!

The second part of the book is a more general account of Churchill in relation to food, drink and, inevitably, cigars.
So this is attractive social history though it tends towards the descriptive rather than the analytical. The author is clearly enamoured of Churchill and some of her defences of him are perhaps a little rose-tinted: I'm not sure that Churchill's `first concern was for the British people's diet', not when he was dining off caviar, grouse and champagne while rationing was in force, but these little slips are forgivable.

Overall, a delightful read that offers a different slant on WW2 politics.
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