Any books about Churchill?

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Al_1942, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. Al_1942

    Al_1942 Junior Member

    Hundreds, of course. I have read a few that, at least partly, dealt with Churchill during WWII. The thing that I found frustrating is that none of the authors are willing to look at Churchill with a critical eye. Everyone is happy to take Churchills public comments at face value without any analysis.

    Not that I am hostile to Churchill, in fact, after reading half a dozen books by famous historians and watching many war documentaries, I feel I know absolutely nothing about the man and, more importantly, Britain's true military and political strategy in WWII.

    A politician's public speeches are interesting only in that they show what he wants people to think. What is far more interesting is his private conversations with colleagues and military leaders. His real thoughts and concerns. The secret dispatches to his diplomats. Surely, this information is now declassified.

    Have any authors scratched beneath the surface?

  2. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    I'd suggest Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45 by Max Hastings.
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    "Churchill, a life" by Martin Gilbert
    and on a lighter note
    "Warlord" by Carlo D'Este

    Both books that I can, and do, come back to many a time to refresh my views of this amazing man.

  4. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    "Warlord" by Carlo D'Este

    I'd forgotten that one! It's a superb book.
  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I found the late Roy Jenkins's biography thorough, and certainly not too ephemeral or hagiographic:
    Churchill: A Biography: Roy Jenkins: Books

    Alanbrooke's diaries are good Churchill reading too:
    War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke: Alex Danchev, Dan Todman: Books
    Him being one of the personalities closest to the man throughout the war (and if the interest is strategic, few books have got the complexity of that across so well for me).

    (Visiting Chartwell is worth it for the Churchill-interested too. Feels in many places like he's just left for a few minutes)
  7. KevinC

    KevinC Slightly wierd

  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    (Visiting Chartwell is worth it for the Churchill-interested too. Feels in many places like he's just left for a few minutes)

    It's funny you should say that.

    Many years ago My wife & I went see a "Son et Lumiere" at Chartwell and we sat in the vale beneath the house and watched (and listened) whilst Churchill's life story was enacted for us.

    When they came to the part of his life that dealt with the inspiring speeches that he wrote a light came on in his study and the hairs literally stood up on the back of one's neck !


    Now see that I mentioned this once before:
  9. Al_1942

    Al_1942 Junior Member

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Read a review of "Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45 by Max Hastings" and it looks like just the kind of book I am after.

    Looked up Martin Gilbert and as Churchill's official biographer and close colleague of Randolph Churchill, I would not think he would be able to write an objective account of Churchill's conduct of the war. Of course, I am speculating without having read the book.

    "Warlord" by Carlo D'Este looks interesting as it seems to focus on Churchill from a military rather than a political point of view.

    I must admit I had to look up "hagiographic" in the dictionary but it represents precisely what I try to avoid in any biography.

    Not sure if Roy Jenkin's book would have enough focus on WWII military matters but Alan Brooke's Diaries certainly look interesting.

    Thanks again.

  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Having read all of the above except the Hastings, I think I'd plump for Woy's book as the most worthwhile Biography.

    It's a brick of a thing, so on checking my copy the WW2 stuff is the thickness of most other paperbacks, though it is indeed only about a third of the book. But I don't personally think you can get a grip on the man without following his earlier career(s) and understanding how the WW2 magnificence was such a surprise in so many ways.

    Seems I'm not alone in rating it quite highly:
  11. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    Speaking of hagiography ... I'm going to suggest John Charmley's 1993 revisionist biography Churchill: The End of Glory. Not because it's lacking controversy (it isn't) nor because I necessarily agree with all of the author's conclusions (I don't), but because it's a useful counterpoint to a lot of the soppier hero-worship that's published about this remarkable but also complex man. As a (highly qualified) admirer of Churchill myself, I find Charmley's critique of him vexing at times but also thought-provoking.

    Best, Alan
  12. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    I agree with Ron and Jonathan on Warlord.

    What a life he had.
  14. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Coming as I do from a Henley family I have always been interested in the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars. For many years Churchill commanded C Squadron (Henley Squadron) in which, despite his political career, he took an active part. Referring to the QOOH as my Regiment it was due to his position as First Lord of the Admiralty that the QOOH were the first TA Regiment in action in WW1 and following a petition to him in WW2 the QOOH (now 63rd A/T Regt) were sent to France in 1944, the only Regiment to be dispatched on the personal order of the Prime Minister.
    All this led me to read Winston Churchill Soldier: The Military Life of a Gentleman at War by Douglas S Russell. Described as a fully researched biography of Churchill's military career.
    A very good read and whatever one's view on Churchill as a politician and leader well illustrates that he had an exciting and fulfilling other life which few, if any, could emulate.


Share This Page