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Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill - Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 Hardcover – 20 Jun 1983

4.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd (20 Jun. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718122755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718122751
  • Package Dimensions: 23.9 x 16 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,274,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Absolutely magnificent . . . a delight to read . . . one of those books you devour line by line and word by word and finally hate to see end. Russell Baker
Bedazzling. Newsweek
Manchester has read further, thought harder, and told with considerable verve what is mesmerizing in [Churchill s] drama. . . . One cannot do better than this book. The Philadelphia Inquirer

An altogether absorbing popular biography . . . The heroic Churchill is in these pages, but so is the little boy writing forlorn letters to the father who all but ignored him. People
Superb . . . [Manchester] pulls together the multitudinous facets of one of the richest lives ever to be chronicled. . . . Churchill and Manchester were clearly made for each other. Chicago Tribune

A vivid, thoroughly detailed biography of the Winston Churchill nobody knows. Boston Herald

Adds a grand dimension . . . rich in historical and social contexts. Time"

"Absolutely magnificent . . . a delight to read . . . one of those books you devour line by line and word by word and finally hate to see end."--Russell Baker
"Bedazzling."--Newsweek
"Manchester has read further, thought harder, and told with considerable verve what is mesmerizing in [Churchill's] drama. . . . One cannot do better than this book."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"An altogether absorbing popular biography . . . The heroic Churchill is in these pages, but so is the little boy writing forlorn letters to the father who all but ignored him."--People
"Superb . . . [Manchester] pulls together the multitudinous facets of one of the richest lives ever to be chronicled. . . . Churchill and Manchester were clearly made for each other."--Chicago Tribune

"A vivid, thoroughly detailed biography of the Winston Churchill nobody knows."--Boston Herald

"Adds a grand dimension . . . rich in historical and social contexts."--Time --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William Manchester was a hugely successful popular historian and renowned biographer. In addition to the three volumes of The Last Lion, his books include Goodbye, Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, and The Death of a President, as well as assorted works of journalism. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award. He passed away in 2004. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Sparking prose and a wonderful overview of the good and bad of the greatest Briton ever
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By Robin Friedman TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Defender of the Realm, 1940 -- 1965" is the final volume of William Manchester's massive three-volume biography, "The Last Lion", of Winston Churchill (1874 -- 1965). The first volume, published in 1983, titled "Visions of Glory", covered Churchill's life from 1874 -- 1932, while the second volume, published in 1988, titled simply "Alone, covered the years 1932 -- 1940. This new sweeping third volume covers Churchill's life beginning with his ascension to the office of Prime Minister in 1940. It focuses upon the WW II years, follows Churchill during the years between 1945 and his second period as Prime Minister from 1951 -- 1955, and concludes with Churchill's years of comparative retirement up to his death. The biography was a near lifetime project for Manchester (1922 -- 2004). Manchester had researched the third volume of the trilogy, prepared well-organized and voluminous notes, and done some of the writing. Near the end of his life, however, Manchester realized he would be unable to complete the third volume. He selected journalist Paul Reid to complete the work.

The result of Manchester's and Reid's efforts is a detailed, dense study of 1200 pages. The book offers a thorough, multi-faceted look at the complex statesman that was Winston Churchill, in his determination, devotion to Great Britain and to civilization, brilliance, and frequent pettiness. Because Churchill's personal life was inextricably intertwined with his public life, this book goes far beyond biography. It is a masterful political and military history of the WW II years and, to a lesser extent, of the years following.

Churchill the man is most in focus in the 50-page "Preamble" to the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Paul Reid has done it! He has produced a worthy successor and final volume to the series started by William Manchester. It has been a long wait, but readers will not be disappointed by the result. Manchester published the first volume in 1983 and the second volume five years later. After completing research for the third book and starting in on the text, his health failed. Before he died, Manchester asked Reid to finish the project.

This volume begins just after Churchill took over as Prime Minister in the spring of 1940. At 1053 pages of closely printed text, it takes some time to read, but not one minute is wasted. The style closely follows the tone set by Manchester, and the scope of research, understanding of subject matter and presentation will impress ordinary readers and historians alike. Reid admires his subject but doesn't try to cover up Churchill's faults or mistakes.

In some ways this is a history of the war disguised as a Churchill biography. About 90% of the text covers the war while the last hundred pages or so takes the reader to the end of Churchill's life in 1965. But the approach serves to place Churchill's actions in their proper context.

I don't believe that there has ever been a Churchill biography that so underscores how desperate the situation was for both Britain and Churchill during the early years of the Second World War and how decisions taken during that time could not forsee how events would eventually unfold or that Britain would even survive. Millions of people truly believed and still do that Churchill was the last bulwark standing between them and a Nazi-dominated future. This book vividly makes clear why their adulation was justified.
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Format: Paperback
William Manchester has no peer now living for writing history and biography. He shows it again here. At just the right times, he interjects himself into the narrative to call the reader's attention to points that might be missed by someone not familiar with British politics or with the times. He also essentially "solves" the riddle, to the extent it can be solved, of why Churchill was ignored when he was so right. Churchill occupied such a leading position in British public life for so long that he was able to commit several big mistakes. Unfortunately for Britain, two big ones - his emotional commitment to the British raj in India, and his emotional commitment to Edward VIII - and particularly the second, came at times that compromised his otherwise clear understanding and vision. Churchill was not a conventional politician, and, in many respects, not a politician at all. That is one reason why he was so misunderstood by contemporary professional politicians. Churchill was a visionary who well understood that, under the guise of merely reflecting the sentiments of his listeners, he could actually cause his listeners to rise to the level of his sentiments. This he did for the British, to their eternal distinction. Churchill is remembered for his erudition because of his voluminous writing, but he is really a monument to character, and, most of all, to courage. The great man of the century, brilliantly presented here in the context of his times and with all his faults.
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