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.
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.
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.