Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book Report: Churchill: A Study In Greatness

" 'I was what grown-up people in their off-hand way call a troublesome boy.'
The nation and society into which Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born, the place in which he was born, and the parents to whom he was born, were all remarkable."

In the genre of biographies, my first book for 2009 is Churchill: A Study In Greatness by Geoffrey Best. At about 350 pages this is a relatively compact book to cover the life of one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. Informative, entertaining, inspiring, illuminating. I liked this book a great deal, but it left me wanting more. Best spends most of the book on Churchill from World War II. Surprisingly, I found the chapters on Churchill's latest years some of the most fascinating. I knew he was ahead of his time regarding ending communism, but had no idea he was one of the first proponents of arms control and European unity. Throughout the book Best notes that Winston's wife, Clementine, was his steadiest influence...but strangely, very few details of their relationship are revealed.

Interestingly, Churchill always believed he was destined for great things even while castigated by contemporaries. He felt that time would provide context and perspective for many of his controversial positions. In most cases, he was proven correct.

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