From Publisher’s Weekly
In this enthusiastic yet first-rate biography, veteran British historian Johnson (Modern Times) asserts that Winston Churchill (1874–1965) was the 20th century’s most valuable figure: No man did more to preserve freedom and democracy…. An ambitious, world-traveling soldier and bestselling author, Churchill was already famous on entering Parliament in 1899 and within a decade was working with Lloyd George to pass the great reforms of 1908–1911. As First Lord of the Admiralty, he performed brilliantly in preparing the navy for WWI, but blame—undeserved according to Johnson—for the catastrophic 1915 Dardanelles invasion drove him from office. Within two years, he was back at the top, where he remained until the Depression. Johnson delivers an adulatory account of Churchill’s prescient denunciations of Hitler and heroics during the early days of WWII, and views later missteps less critically than other historians. He concludes that Churchill was a thoroughly likable great man with many irritating flaws but no nasty ones: he lacked malice, avoided grudges, vendettas and blame shifting, and quickly replaced enmity with friendship. Biographers in love with their subjects usually produce mediocre history, but Johnson, always self-assured as well as scholarly, has written another highly opinionated, entertaining work.
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Why the President Should Read This Book
Love him or hate him, Winston Churchill should certainly make anyone’s top 10 list of most influential world leaders of the past 100 years. His foresight and success when it came to the threat of Nazi Germany, and his foresight and failure to convince FDR when it came to the Soviets, place him at once in history as a leader whose choices and actions should be thoroughly studied by other leaders, if not emulated.
This is a short book. It is not a comprehensive, nor thorough biography. It is a good introduction to the man, his upbringing, his family, and his career. But it is only a starting point, not the end.