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4.6 out of 5 stars
27
Churchill: A Study in Greatness
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on 31 January 2003
Geoffrey Best has produced an excellent biography of Churchill - a single volume of manageable length unlikely to be bettered. The writing is elegant, Churchill's life and work comprehensively covered and Best's judgments are soundly based. The strength of this biography lies in Best's ability to paint a vivid picture of Churchill's character, virtues as well as vices, family and public life, without loosing balance or feeling the need to stoop to sensationalism.
Churchill's life was an epic adventure from his birth at Blenheim Palace, that stately monument to his ancestor whose military victory opened the first chapter of Great Britain's rise as great power to his death and state funeral, a fitting final chapter to the same story. Given his background, his romantic attachment to Great Britain and her rightful place in the world, and his difficulty with accepting the constraints of political parties - he changed twice- Churchill was far from being a typical politician, although he never wavered from his belief in the yoke of democracy and the supremacy of the House of Commons. But the many apparent contradictions and political mistakes, none of which Best seeks to gloss over or excuse, were but facets of the complex character of the one man able to assume leadership of the nation at the time of its darkest hour in 1940 and guide it to victory. This achievement, above all else - and there was much more - justifies Churchill's claim to greatness.
Perhaps this book is best summed up in Best's own words: "I found the great man I had always supposed to be there; less great in some respects that were new to me, and with many more idiosyncracies than I could have thought possible, but with a title to a place in any pantheon not wholly reserved for stars of screen, song and stadium; and, besides all that, an extraordinary many-sided human being whom it has been exhilarating to study."
55 people found this helpful
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on 21 July 2017
Useful survey of Churchill's life and work. Not terribly detailed, nor is it engagingly written.
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on 4 October 2017
Wonderful book!!!!! I loved it!!
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on 8 September 2017
Very fine book and in good condition.
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on 25 June 2017
Thorough storytelling, but sometimes too much details so easy to loose the main course of the story.
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on 26 February 2018
Perfect service and book in excellent condition thank you.
Also a great read!
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on 5 March 2009
I enjoyed this book. It is brief. I read it shortly after Roy Jenkins Life of Churchill.

Geoffrey Best wrote this book to satisfy his curiosity about Churchill's greatness, and the conclusion he draws (that Churchill was very great indeed) is persuasive. Best seems well-informed, and his judgement so far as it goes reliable.

But, I describe the book as "partial" because, being brief, it doesn't attempt to cover every detail. For example there is little detail about Churchill's government activity in the 1920s, little about his parliamentary campaigning, no mention of his holidays in Madeira, no mention of the delight he took in holidays near the Atlas Mountains. I think the quality, energy, and wide ranging contribution in government in the 1910s and 1920s was not only important in its own right, but an augury of the magnificent contribution he made in later years, ... and Best understates the inherent quality of these auguries. Just as Churchill said, it was as if all his former life was a preparation for the trials of the Second World War.

I found Bests Epilogue interesting. It discusses eg whether the values and worldview of Churchill (eg roughly nationalistic and pro-Anglo-Saxon management) can be understood and sympathised with these days. Best mentions Isaiah Berlin and Clement Attlee as two people who wrote penetrating essays about Churchill. I shall try to read both of them.
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on 17 July 2015
I was keen to expand my knowledge of British politics. Please see my review of Charles Kennedy's book. So it seemed logical to turn my studies towards Winston Churchill, whose political career spanned both World Wars, and who wrote extensively. There were various reasons I picked this particular book. I wanted a book that was readable, not too academic and did not contain too many footnotes. I also avoided Boris Johnson's biography of Winston because I didn't want to read about how amazing Winston was; I wanted to find out why he left the Liberals; why he was blamed for the Dardanelles; and how practical it is to aspire to greatness. I think this book for me achieves most of that. I did find a few of the sentences a bit confusing; so much so that even on a second reading, I wasn't quite sure what the author was meaning. But as the text sets out to be judgmental, care has to be taken when adopting this technique, and indeed at one point at least in this book, the author actually speaks to the reader saying that he or she should make his or her own mind up. I like that. This book made me think. Recommended.
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on 10 March 2009
I have just finished reading this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a balanced review of Sir Winston Churchill. Best succinctly provides an objective and detailed account of Churchill's life, equally expounding both the man's virtues and accomplishments alongside his foibles and failings. Consequently, this biography succeeds in neither fawning nor debunking Churchill's legendary status in history.
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on 16 January 2013
Bought as a present. This book has been an very interesting read at times it was hard to put down. Would recommend this without hesitation.
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