Winston Churchill is without question one of the most important figures of the twentieth century. Famous as the bulldog who rallied his wavering and war-weary compatriots to lead the Allied resistance to Hitler, he will forever stand as Britain's savior. Unceremoniously thrown out of office after the war, he was considered brilliant, occasionally impolitic, but morally principl...
Winston Churchill is without question one of the most important figures of the twentieth century. Famous as the bulldog who rallied his wavering and war-weary compatriots to lead the Allied resistance to Hitler, he will forever stand as Britain's savior. Unceremoniously thrown out of office after the war, he was considered brilliant, occasionally impolitic, but morally principled by his friends, and fearsome, opportunistic, and an unruly trouble-maker by his enemies. For much of his long political career he was the most detested and mistrusted man in British public life. Yet when he retired he was acclaimed as the "greatest Englishman of all time." Which is the real Churchill?
In the past several years, a wave of revisionist scholars have attacked Churchill's wartime strategy, domestic politics, and private life, and have even claimed that he could have responsibly kept England out of the war. Now Norman Rose, the first historian to be granted access to the Churchill archives since the publication of Churchill's authorized biography, sets the record straight, combining a proper assessment of Churchill's achievements with a legitimate strand of revisionism. Rose's Churchill is impetuous, and capable of disastrous miscalculation -- as in the Dardanelles expedition and the Norwegian campaign of 1940. Yet Rose defends Churchill's place in the pantheon of history, showing that through his story runs a tragic thread -- how the scion of a great aristocratic house, in many ways the quintessential English aristocrat, conservative and imperialist, came to preside over his country's decline. It is this theme, at once dramatic and poignant, that Norman Rose handles with fine understanding and perception in this comprehensive and fully documented account of Churchill's life.
British critics widely hailed Norman Rose's Churchill as quite simply the best biography yet written, calling it a "masterpiece." Finally now available to American readers, Churchill: The Unruly Giant is a definitive interpretation of one of the twentieth century's greatest leaders.
Rose lays more stress on Churchill's struggles and flaws than on his successes and strengths. He presents Churchill's early career as preparation for the hour of supreme crisis when, as England's wartime prime minister, he inspired his countrymen to confront the Germans despite seemingly hopeless odds: "No man was ever more prepared, more fitted, more willing to fulfill this historical task, one that he accomplished with consummate artistry." Rose recounts how Churchill became a political pariah after the 1915 Dardanelles fiasco, his career apparently ruined until David Lloyd George appointed him minister of munitions in 1917; and again, during most of the 1930s, distrusted by both major parties and thought to lack judgment and stability, he suffered political exile until he was appointed first lord of the admiralty by Neville Chamberlain after the outbreak of WWII. Rose takes a frank look at Churchill's faults-his inability to admit mistakes, his colossal ego, his profound self-centeredness-and demonstrates that these were the flaws of a great man rather than tragic flaws in the Aristotelian sense. Rose teaches history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Photos not seen by PW.