Top positive review
55 people found this helpful
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."