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 first volume of Manchester's admirable biography of Churchill provides fascinating detail on Churchill's first 58 years. If you're interested in the two world wars, and the greatest personality of his era, the man who did the most to save the world from Hitler, dig in, and be prepared to immerse yourself in a bygone world, brilliantly researched and richly painted. I am now on Volume III, and have enjoyed every hour spent listening to this extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man.
Listeners who dislike British accents may not appreciate Davidson's reading, but hang in there... the rich and engrossing story survives this dated recording.
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
Davidson's narration is truly epic befitting the larger than life book and man therein portrayed. He sang the songs of Churchill's youth. He mimicked the great politicians wonderfully; I really felt as if Lloyd George were speaking, for instance. I am in awe of his ability to deal with the diversity of people and accents found in this history. Unfortunately, his performance shined to such a degree that I found the other two volumes wanting.
Winston Churchill has been a particular fascination for me and, while William Manchester is not Churchill's official biographer, I committed myself to the series. Unfortunately, Manchester died during the third and final part. It is not nearly as good as the first and second. Manchester's brilliantly paints a full picture of the milieu in which young Winston was born and grew up, helping us understand the towering political figure he became.
Yes, W.S. Churchill is revealed in a level of detail that I never expected. His brilliance and his vulnerabilities are all brought to life.
To some. The book has so much information and detail, that it would be easy to get bogged down. Listening help push through some of the dry parts.
Traveler. Artist. Dreamer.
This is a history book. It's hard to fully delve into. Yet, I'm glad I listened to it. I learned a lot about European history & what an interesting man Churchill is. I can't believe all the obstacles he faced. This man had a lot of people who disliked him and had many career ruining moments, but somehow he just kept going even with bouts of depression. Makes one reflect on one's actions.
I don't have the print edition, but Davidson's narration is wonderful-- totally enjoyable. It takes a couple chapters to appreciate all his 'impersonations' (e.g. female characters), but as the story progresses, you will appreciate the variety it brings.
Churchill is an amazing character-- I expected that, but the author does a wonderful of job of setting the environment, and providing just enough background and detail for other important characters (e.g. his mother, General Kitchener, et cetera).
His intonations / impersonations of characters, and of course, Churchill! Brilliant!
Yes, but it is too long for that. Plus, you don't want it to be over too soon.
It is a long listen. Be patient. Allow the author and narrator to draw you in.
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.