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.
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).
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.
Regarding both volumes there is much to like: they are superbly written and, of course, the subject could not be more interesting. However, in answer to the question by a prior reviewer of "what's not to like?," there are some very questionable historical assertions, particularly in volume two.
One example is characteristic of Manchester's sometimes reckless scholarship. He states as fact that had Hitler not entered into the Munich agreement and ordered the invasion of Czechoslovakia that Hadler had in place coup plans that he was about to order. This assertion relies for the most part on post-war trial testimony by German generals who were trying to get out from under the charge of agreesive war. It is very questionable. As most historians show (read Evans and Kershaw for example) there was a lot of plotting and talking going on in some elements of the German military but there is no hard evidence that a coup had reached a final organizational stage and would have be successful it it had. In fact, it wasn't until German was partically on its knees and the war was clearly lost in July of 1944 that they finally did something and even then it didn't work.
Another example of many in volume two is the assertion that the offensive plan for the May 1940 was Hitler's original idea. Of course, he later claimed it was and he certainly gets credit for going with a great plan, but most historians agree the idea did not originate with him. I could go on.
It really got so I had to fact check constantly in volume two. Any there was some of it In volume one. For a much for convincing discussion of Churchill's relationship with Fischer, which Manchester presents as inexplicable, see Gallipoli by Robert James. It's kind of like what Manchester did with The Death of a President where he took something that was true (that there was a climate of right wing hate in Dallas) and connected to Kennedy's killing. In fact there was no connection between the two because Kennedy was killed by a left wing activitist who had just tried to kill a leading right wing figure in Texas 8 months before killed Kennedy. Or what Manchester did with what people thought were his Pacific War memiors where he just made things up. Having said all this, they are very enjoyable books. I just hope (particularly in volume one) that there aren't too many errors I didn't caught.
Maybe, I'm a big fan of Winston Churchill and I found this book to be a very honest biography that provides tremendous insight into his incredible life. The reader of this book is outstanding with terrific command of the various characters.
I was really unaware of the challenges Winston had in his early years and the disconnect between him and his parents. It was inspiring to see how much he had to overcome and the fierce determination that appeared very early and would be evident throughout his life.
This is a very entertaining and informative book that provides real insight into Winston Churchill and the events that shaped his life.