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 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
Not only a biography, William Manchester vividly sets the stage of the Victorian England that Churchill grew up in. His young life is just as engrossing as his WWII years, and taught me so much that I did not know. Also have to say that it is BRILLIANTLY narrated by Frederick Davidson, who has a great voice and an even better Churchill impression. I am on to volume 2 and am pretty disappointed that it was not the same narrator, I loved Frederick Davidson so much. I am just getting started so hopefully it will get better, but I can't imagine anyone doing a better Churchill.
He has a gift for accents, and his Churchill from boyhood into adulthood was astonishingly real.
Don't let the length of this volume scare you off. If you are at all interested in modern history, this is a fascinating and enlightening book. It seems like Manchester includes everything there is to be known about Churchill's early life. This is all told against the extremely rich background of the last days of Victorian England and the glory of the British Empire, upon which "the sun never sets". I found the material describing the Victorian era and the empire to be fascinating and enriching as well.
Finally, Frederick Davidson is an extremely thoughtful and talented narrator, and this volume represents the most perfect match of narrator to subject that I have ever heard. His "Churchillian" voice is virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Tough call...but, the best I've invested in to date.
The sweep of History and geopolitics--an amazing story.
See more detailed comments in VOL 2 review.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I have always been an admirer of Winston Churchill and finally got a chance to listen to this biography by William Manchester. The detail is exquisite and the intimacies into his character are delightful.
Mr. Winston Churchill. Duh!
I like his singing, his accent sometimes puts me off. I don't pronounce words the way he does. He has a clear strong voice and sounds a lot like Mr. Churchill when quoting him. That is the best part of his narration.
I loved the book. It makes Winston Churchill very human. I love his relationship with his wife and the fact that he calls his children "the kittens". His wife is "Cat" and he is "Pig".
This is a big commitment. There are three books in this series, each around 40 hours of listening. This book takes Mr. Churchill to 1932.
Another note: I listened for 4 plus hours before Winston was even born. Like I said, there is lots of detail here, (sometimes a little too much).
William Manchester is one of the great writers of our time and does the most extensive and readable biography of one of the most important individual of the 20th century.
Though i am an unapologetic Anglophobe I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed the 1st volume of The Last Lion on audiobook
He Delivers, with the right tone and cadence, the withering sarcasm of Churchill with gusto, and like Winston speaks abysmal French.
I have not read the print version.
The book goes into great depth for Winston's life, and his childhood is especially sad in that his parents never spent much time with him. He treats his own children much better.
There are sever scenes which I enjoyed, Churchill had a very interesting life and the story is compelling enough to get me to listen to all 41 HOURS of the first volume. Looking forward to the second volume.
Churchill was an active participant in much of the 'action' of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One learns about oth Churchill and these events. Remarkable times and a remarkable man. Manchester provides the cultural and historical background to make the story engrossing and entertaining. The duration of this audiobook seems daunting but it flies by.
The performance is the best I've heard in an audio book. More like a one man stage show. The figures in the book each have a distinct and convincing voice. The example ones provided to illustrate the period are sung.
Listen to this book!
The entire book end o end.
Gret story, great writing, incredible performance.