This book is a fascinating and pleasurable listen. Christopher Hitchens calls it hagiography, but Manchester fairly acknowledges and discusses the various criticisms of Churchill, providing ample evidence for those who choose to disagree with his interpretation. There are certainly many things to dislike about this charismatic and dynamic figure—from his sense of entitlement to his rather distasteful bigotry—but The Last Lion does a marvelous job providing the reader with real insight into Churchill’s character and career. Frederick Davidson is a first-rate story-teller who does not overdo the Churchillian growl, pronounces German and French like a native, offers a wide-range of speaking voices (his young Churchill has just the right tinge of spoiled brat), and often had me laughing with his ability to express the author’s subtle irony. It is a great pity that Manchester never finished his grand designs for this biography.
This is definitely the in the top ten, maybe top five!
I enjoyed the flow of the book, as it waxed and wained from the cultural background of the Victorian Age to the details of the Churchill life.
Mr. Davidson's accents are quite good, and his timber remains fairly constant. His impersonation of Churchill, with his characteristic impediment, is very good.
The Man, The Myth, The Lion.
This a well-told biography for those who enjoy both storyline and historical fact. The pace is excellent; never did I feel bogged down. I use Audible as a hard educational entertainment tool in a low-light setting where physical reading in usually not practical. Finding entertaining history is sometimes difficult, as often it seems that textbooks are used. This author does well at both entertaining and informing at a pace and manner that doesn't sound like a graduate thesis.
This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever listened to or read. I happily lean towards escapist fiction and mysteries for my own reading and listening. I ordered this lo-o-ong biography on a whim when I saw it on sale, not expecting to listen to the end.
I was so wrong!
Before even getting to the birth of the Churchill, a great deal of time was spent on providing the background of the world and culture that formed him. Instead of being rather dull, the vivid and well-crafted descriptions of a society and government so different from the modern worldwere very interesting and necessary to understand who did what and why. Once Winston Churchill was introduced he became a real person to me rather than a rather stout man in old black and white pictures with a distinctive voice heard on scratchy recordings.
A great factor in the excellence of this book is the narrator. His diction is clear and easy-to-understand. His voice is pleasant and neutral on the factual portion and appropriately emotional for direct quotations of people. He even uses appropriate accents and voices for the varied characters. The Irish sound Irish. The French speaking in English sound French. He even manages to make the women sound clearly feminine. Beyond a great part of the fascination this book had for me was to hear the voice of Churchill recognizably interpreted from his childhood to middle age. All of this is an amazing performance by a fine actor.
One small area of irritation for me was that some quotes were given in a language foreign to me with no translation to English. Since my French, German and Latin skills are only up to recognizing the language but not the content, I was a little frustrated. I was so engaged I really wanted to know what had been said.
While a book of this length and on this topic is not for everyone, it is well worth the money, time and attention needed to hear it all the way through. I'm buying the second part of this biography next month
I grabbed this audiobook as the second I had ever purchased on Audible on a whim. I had just finished watching a short documentary on Chruchill and wanted to learn a little bit more about him.
I grabbed this with one of my precious credits, figuring the extraordinary length could help me stretch that credit into a couple of months. I wasn't wrong.
However, don't let the length of this audiobook put you off, nor it subject matter, which in the wrong hand could be very dry. Manchester was the perfect man to write this biography (and at time I have a hard time calling it that.)
The reason I have a hard time calling this just a biography, is that Churchill the man was very much a product of the era he was born in and the era in which he was raised. In keeping with that, Manchester does an amazing job giving a history lesson on late Victorian England and the end of a century. It's as much a biography as a historical piece on a time period. The time period is as much a part of Churchill as Churchill is of it.
The author often leaves the subject of solely Churchill to explore the end of the Victorian era, and I often would not even notice. Manchester does an amazing job world building the past and placing Churchill within that world so that his story is so much richer.
The book follows Churchill from his early, and often troubled childhood to the end of an era and the begging of another. The rise of Nazism in post-World War I Europe.
The narration is superb. I only wish Davidson had done the other two in this trilogy. His accent is spot on and his Churchill is amazing. He ages the voice and you are able to hear the childlike innocence give way to the exuberance of a young military officer, to the strength and decisiveness of the Lord of the Admiralty.
One of my favorite things though was the different accents Davidson would affect. Especially the American. Interesting to hear an Englishman do an American accent and he did an excellent job.
If you have any interest in Churchill, the United Kingdom, World War I, or the Victorian Era and the beginning of the 20th century, I highly recommend this audiobook! You will definitely get the full value of your credit here!
No, seriously, the book is amazingly funny. For all I've admired and respected Churchill, the thought of him bursting out in a theater "If the donkey dies, I should leave" was just awesomely funny. Certainly the well known wit is featured, but the, very human, playfulness he showed to his wife and children made for genuine humor.
Yes, it's a mindbogglingly thorough history of the man, and it's not all fun. Some of it is simply heart wrenching. Some reads like an adventure novel. However, if you're not laughing a good bit this book you probably should see a professional about it.
Obviously, this is not a book for the casual listener. But if you are interested in the history of the Victorian period, WWI, the English Empire, or (obviously) Winston Churchill himself, you will not regret downloading this book. It is thorough, but not tedious, which in a book this length is quite the accomplishment. It is a far from a simple hagiography - we see Churchill with all his warts and poor decisions without any attempt at justifying or or explaining away incongruities. It does a good job portraying the wonderful complexity of the circumstances and personality that go into producing a great man like Churchill.
The reader deserves a special mention - his Churchill voice is very good, his accents are very good (except his Russian one!), and his reading is simply perfect for this volume. I highly recommend this audiobook.
It's difficult to convey how remarkable and influential Sir Winston Churchill was to the unfolding of the 20th century and, in fact, the fate of the world. It's also hard to explain how many truly bizarre turns he experienced throughout his life. His sad, strange upbringing coupled with a brilliance unmatched by any of his peers turns this early-years biography into an epic journey repleat with danger, disappointment, intrige, betrayal and triumph. Even his fiercest detractors admired him for his ample gifts.What a joy to have this first volume narrated by Frederick Davidson whose masterful Churchillian mimickery brings Victorian and Eduardian England to vivid life.There are times where the level of detail is such that the mind drifts away momentarily, but I think that's a function of Manchester's desire to get it all down while there were contemporaries who knew Churchill personally. Do yourself a favor and do not skip this volume to jump into the war years. This book is well worth the telling nd certainly worth a listen. Well done!
The book is written in very elegant prose which is at the same time easily digestible and entertaining. The pacing is superb.
Winston and I both struggled with similar difficulties throughout childhood. That he overcame his is great inspiration to me.
Loved the information in the book. Not only was history of Churchill interesting, the history and mores of the culture were very enlightening. The narrator does an excellent job with all of the character voices.
Tell us about yourself!
I loved the way Frederick Davidson embellishes the stories with dramatic voices (Winston with a lisp, the Queen, his disinterested mother's letters, his nanny) and even sings a song or two now and then. His accent is perfect, his French delicious, his pace just right. It is clear that he is interested in the book, not just processing words.
His voice. His timing. He makes the humorous parts even funnier and the tragic parts even sadder.
The litany of written pleas by Winston for visits or letters from his parents while away at Harrow is so effective because it is a series of direct quotes from correspondence woven deftly by the author into a narrative without it seeming like a list. Just one example of how great this author is.
This is an almost effortless way to learn more about culture and the politics of the time.