Halloo your name to the reverberate hills, And make the babbling gossip of the air Cry out. – three studies of Winston Churchill

Here is Evelyn Waugh, writing to Ann Fleming, three days after Churchill died: “He was not a man for whom I ever had esteem. Always in the wrong, always surrounded by crooks, a most unsuccessful father – simply a ‘Radio Personality’ who outlived his prime. ‘Rallied the nation’ indeed! I was a serving soldier in 1940. How we despised his orations.”

You will not find that sentiment expressed in either of these books. Gilbert is something of the Homer of the Churchill legacy. A retainer used to sit around the fire and sing sad songs of the death of the king as part of his panegyric – an art form of oratory originally meant to praise the deceased by going to the very limits of truth, if not a teensy bit beyond, when consigning them to the gods or Valhalla or where ever. In his two books here we are presented with the hero of his life rather than the stuttering drunkard extolling a decaying empire. Reynolds book is slightly more honest in that it takes Churchill’s writing as exercises in propaganda – we suspect his love hate relationship with Goebbels was more professional jealousy than anything else – and gives them credit as the masterful exercises that they were.

Churchill has long been the darling of the conservatives in this country dating back at least to his 1946 speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri where he declared, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

Never were truer words spoken. The problem with the conservatives and with both books is that they are overwhelmed by the erudite language and are willing to overlook not only his complicity in having made the Iron Curtain possible but also a career that spanned more than half a century of the promotion of the worst excesses of colonialism from the Sudan in 1898 to Suez in 1956.

From the Dardanelles to Dunkirk his defeats were written in British and Commonwealth blood,  from the Nile to the Rhine his[sic] victories were written in American blood and from Halifax to Haifa to Hong Kong his political miscalculations are an enduring source of misery to millions – you must forgive me if I think Waugh was was far too kind in his estimation.

In search of Churchill : a historian’s journey New York : J. Wiley & Sons, [1995], c 1994      Martin Gilbert Great Britain  History  20th century  Historiography Hardcover. First American edition and printing. “First published in Great Britain in 1994 by HarperCollins Publishers.” xiii, 338 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes Index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Martin Gilbert’s landmark eight- volume biography of Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest ever written. And the story behind it is every bit as fascinating as its celebrated subject. In Search of Churchill is the critically acclaimed tale of the author’s thirty-year quest for one of the legendary leaders and dominant personalities of the twentieth century.

This brilliant account is at once a striking portrayal of Winston Churchill as seen through the eyes of those closest to him and a rare, inside look at the not always successful effort to seperate propoganda from fact. In Search of Churchill reveals the staggering extent of Gilbert’s research, an epic undertaking that he began in 1962 as Randolph Churchill’s assistant. From that auspicious beginning to the exultant moment when, some twenty-five years later, the author “reached the final file in the bottom drawer of the last filing cabinet,” we witness the extraordinary process of countless interviews, of digging ever more deeply to dispel the myths and stereotypes, of alternately charming and cajoling those sources reluctant to confide.

Now, share some of the great moments in Martin Gilbert’s pursuit, and meet an unforgettable cast of characters along the way: secretaries, assistants, diarists, correspondents, soldiers, politicians, civil servants; the eminent and the unknown. All had tales to tell, many appearing for the first time in this book. Through these intimate recollections a remarkable pattern emerges.

The impressions Churchill made on those he met, even as an adolescent, were indelible – at least they are remembered as such. From schoolmates to members of parliament, family friends to casual acquaintances, all were convinced he was unique – and a true man of destiny. Here, then, is an un-paralleled opportunity to view the complex character of the man behind the public persona – seen at his most unguarded moments.

Filled with intriguing anecdotes that could not be included in the formal biography, In Search of Churchill unfolds with vigorous enthusiasm and unbounded affection for its subject. It is must reading, not only for Churchill devotees, but for all those interested in the art of biography. The critically acclaimed story behind the writing of one of the greatest biographies of the twentieth century.

In command of history : Churchill fighting and writing the Second World War New York : Random House, c 2005      David Reynolds World War, 1939-1945  Personal narratives, British  History and criticism Book . xxiv, 631 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [540]-544) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Winston Churchill was one of the giants of the twentieth century. As Britain’s prime minister from 1940 to 1945, he courageously led his nation and the world away from appeasement, into war, and on to triumph over the Axis dictators. His classic six-volume account of those years, The Second World War, has shaped our perceptions of the conflict and secured Churchill’s place as its most important chronicler. Now, for the first time, a book explains how Churchill wrote this masterwork, and in the process enhances and often revises our understanding of one of history’s most complex, vivid, and eloquent leaders.

In Command of History sheds new light on Churchill in his multiple, often overlapping roles as warrior, statesman, politician, and historian. Citing excerpts from the drafts and correspondence for Churchill’s magnum opus, David Reynolds opens our eyes to the myriad forces that shaped its final form.

We see how Churchill’s manuscripts were vetted by Whitehall to conceal secrets such as the breaking of the Enigma code by British spymasters at Bletchley Park, and how Churchill himself edited the volumes to avoid offending postwar statesmen such as Tito, Charles de Gaulle, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. We explore his confusions about the true story of the atomic bomb, learn of his second thoughts about Stalin, and watch him repackage himself as a consistent advocate of the D-Day landings.

In Command of History is a major work that forces us to reconsider much received wisdom about World War II. It also peels back the covers from an unjustly neglected period of Churchill’s life, his “second wilderness” years, 1945—1951. During this time Churchill, now over seventy, wrote himself into history, politicked himself back into 10 Downing Street, and delivered some of the most vital oratory of his career, including his pivotal “iron curtain” speech.

Exhaustively researched and dazzlingly written, this is a revelatory portrait of one of the world’s most profiled figures, a work by a historian in full command of his craft.

Churchill and the Jews : a lifelong friendship New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2007      Martin Gilbert Zionism  Great Britain  History  20th century Book . xix, 359 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [325]-329) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG

An insightful history of Churchill’s lifelong commitment — both public and private — to the Jews and Zionism, and of his outspoken opposition to anti-Semitism

Winston Churchill was a young man in 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was convicted of treason and sent to Devil’s Island. Despite the prevailing anti-Semitism in England as well as on the Continent, Churchill’s position was clear: he supported Dreyfus, and condemned the prejudices that had led to his conviction.

Churchill’s commitment to Jewish rights, to Zionism — and ultimately to the State of Israel — never wavered. In 1922, he established on the bedrock of international law the right of Jews to emigrate to Palestine. During his meeting with David Ben-Gurion in 1960, Churchill presented the Israeli prime minister with an article he had written about Moses, praising the father of the Jewish people.

Drawing on a wide range of archives and private papers, speeches, newspaper coverage, and wartime correspondence, Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, explores the origins, implications, and results of Churchill’s determined commitment to Jewish rights, opening a window on an underappreciated and heroic aspect of the brilliant politician’s life and career.


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