I liked the level of detail which is included in this volume. It contains many details which I have not encountered in either biographies of Churchill or accounts of the 2nd World War. An example is the descriptions of the ebbs and flows of support for Churchill during his time as prime minister during the war. Also, the information about the people who surrounded and assisted him during this period is very well done and informative.
All of the descriptions of his personal quirks, which were many and fascinating. Examples of this are his drinking and the schedule which he kept during the blitz. Also, the scenes which describe his single minded determination to defeat Germany once he was given responsibility for the war give real insight into his greatness.
This is must reading for anyone interested in Churchill and/or the 2nd World War.
54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests.
The first 2 instalments of this trilogy-were, for me 2 of the most beloved books I have ever read/listened to. The writing was an utter revelation for me and that level of stunning art has been achieved by perhaps 5 or so other books out of the 1100 titles I've listened to over the last 5+ years of audible books AND all the other books I have read in book form. Robert Caro's works come to mind as those that are at least equal in brilliance.
Like so many other frothing fans of these first 2 books, I learned that Manchester had died leaving the 3rd books research and start to paul reid to finish. I like so many other fans followed any sign we could find ( for years) that would indicate when our Manchester "fix" would be released. When the time finally arrived for the audible release I noticed that there was no sign audible was aware of it. I called audible and they thanked me for the heads up and released it. I've just bored you with this blurb so you might understand my emotional involvement.
When I started the book I was horrified. I have NEVER EVER heard worse narration. This was someone who was not only reading the text without being prepared, this was like listening to a 8yr old read. Luckily Reid was responsible for just reading the lengthy "preamble" Clive Chafer's narration of the rest of the book was for me annoying because his intonations were exactly like a BBC news anchor or reporter. Despite all this I listened carefully to every word.
Before I get into my review of the writing of the book itself, I must first make it understood that I think, feel and want to acknowledge that poor Mr. Reid had a hurculean task in writing this book as we can imagine after reading his introduction which explains the huge piles of disorganized research and indecipherable piles of notes he had to contend with.And of course he was put in the position of trying to write in a style that at least compliments the first 2 books- and that style is one of very high standing. Imagine you had to write the 3rd book of lord of the rings for instance (for lack of a better analogy) All of this being said ,we still have to judge the book on its merits alone.
I think by now you can infer that Im not enthralled with the book but if you hang in there you may find it interesting why.
The task laid before Reids feet was to finish a BIOGRAPHY of Churchill and what has been written is a history of ww2. Ironically if you want a better version of this book with more about Churchill read Churchill's amazing 6 vol THE SECOND WORLD WAR. As I have read his ww2 there was nothing at all new for me, So I thought well at least I'll get his biography post ww2. I was astounded to find that his last 10 yrs were given just 17 pages out of 1053! and titled "postscript" in the book form. This would have been fine if the intended purpose of the book was a ww2 history but its NOT- its supposed to be a biography. His last ten yrs should not be BESIDE the point- THEY ARE THE POINT.
Beyond this huge flaw, this isn't even very well written and certainly doesn't come even close to Manchesters standard. I wondered how the New York Times rated it so I looked it up and was heartened to find they found this book just as I did. Of course You can check for yourself. I thank those that hung in to the end of this very long review and hope you got something out of it.
When a book is this good (and as universally lauded as this one has been) there is really not much one can say. But I’m sure I’ll find something.
First, the Author’s Note, read by the Paul Reid, is a touching explanation of how he got the job of finishing The Last Lion. A writer myself (though on nothing like this scale) I could sympathize with a writer confronted by a mountain of notes taken by another man, now dead, who had color coded them in a way only that man could understand. The Preamble, also read by Reid, is a short, revealing portrait of Churchill: his talents and shortcomings, his endearing and infuriating qualities—for both his friends and his enemies, foreign and domestic. It makes a fine listen in and of itself.
The far more massive book that comes after that—the final third of an even more massive literary venture—is a piece of writing that is paced just right. The years we want to hear about, 1940 through 1945, are given in detail that is thorough without being excruciating. And, while a straight-up academic biographer would probably have felt compelled to treat the last twenty years, 1945 to 1965, with the same exactitude, Reid opts to handle them more deftly. While it is sad to see the pivotal figure that essentially saved Western Civilization slip to junior partner status after America enters the war, it is even harder to see the man who had been a lambent flame of physical and mental energy his whole life drift into senility. Reid has the sense and taste to draw a curtain over much that could have been written. Bless him for that.
Reid’s style is spot-on as well. It has been said of Manchester that he wasn’t so much an historian as a storyteller, and Paul Reid follows faithfully in those footsteps. The story of the man, his triumphs and failures, is always center stage and always moving forward. Because this is written as a story—as opposed to academic history—it makes perfect listening. It also helped that I’ve spent the last few years reading up on the Second World War, especially the European and African theaters. Thus I was able to follow the paths of the armies without having to hit “pause” and go dig out maps.
Finally, the narration is every bit as good as the writing. Clive Chaffer’s pacing and diction are superb throughout, especially his way of delivering every one of the great man’s words, spoken or written, that appear in the text with a Churchillesque inflection. His studied avoidance of giving any other character in the story a unique voice helps keep Churchill the focus of the tale.
At 53 hours one might entertain qualms about listener ennui. But one would be wrong. Maybe it’s just me, but I cleaned the kitchen, rode to work and back on the train, folded laundry or just sat and sipped a drink, the man and the war becoming more and more a part of my mental makeup. I didn’t so much listen as absorb. William Manchester chose the right man to carry on and Audible chose the right reader.
In an age obsessed with youth and fitness and hooked on movies based on DC Comics superheroes, it’s refreshing to realize that the man who really did save the world was a heavy drinker who never exercised and displayed his greatest heroism at an age when most men are contemplating retirement.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
OMG I listened to the complete series of the Last Lion, Winston Spenser Churchill. One hundred thirty one hours and 17 minutes. I do like history, and particularly the telling of WW1 and WWII triumphs and setbacks but this was quite an undertaking. Further, I adore Churchill and he is an inspiration. I even did this listen after last year working my way through Churchill’s own memories on WWII, itself some 45 hours. Was it worth the effort? The main stories in all three editions are about British politics. For me yes, but I would recommend it only for serious historical researchers or political science enthusiasts. I have reviewed the first two books in the series and will comment on this one alone.
We get fact after fact after fact and then some more facts. Conclusions are drawn but it is a long way getting there. What is wonderful about The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume 3: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, is how it breaks down the myths of the war leaders. I have always been taught how magnificent Franklin Roosevelt was, how strategic Dwight Eisenhower was, etc. etc. Yes, Roosevelt although he did guide the U.S. into war with a slow ease, he still brought us to it unprepared. Then after professing friendship with the British he profaned the British and Churchill, who withstood Hitler alone for some two unfathomable years, decided he could work out more with buddying up to Stalin than presenting a unified front with the British, and the free world. We know how that worked out; the Iron Curtain came into existence – that term by the way is a Churchillian appellative. Likewise, Eisenhower did a magnificent job in preparing and executing D-Day, the day (June 6, 1944) in World War II on which Allied forces invaded northern France by means of beach landings in Normandy. On the other hand instead of moving the U.S. armies east to capture Berlin, eastern German, Poland and other eastern European countries, he went chasing after some alleged redoubt of Hitler’s (which never existed) and allowed the Soviet Union to “liberate” the eastern block of European nations. Not impressive. Remember Eisenhower the president who warned us against the military industrial complex. That was nice of him to mention – but if something needed to be done why didn’t he do something about it while he was president. The book tells us like stories about other great leaders. All losing faith in Churchill, all failing in the end to give any credence to his warnings and strategies. And, in the end, though, Churchill’s theories and plans were 90% of the time superior.
There might now be an Axis over the world but for Churchill. Maybe, but close enough to praise the man’s existence. The series of books provides the reader with all the necessary information.
This book was written by Paul Reid as William Manchester, the author of the first two editions and who died before writing the final study, is quite good and in Manchester’s style. His presentment of facts was not bad, just not as good as Manchester.
One last point I found interesting. Churchill longed for a union of the English speaking peoples of the world. How interesting. I now plan to read Churchill’s “A History of the English Speaking Peoples” but first a little sojourn into some Jo Nesbo, Harry Hole novel to get the kinks out of my armor.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
This is a surprisingly good book; surprising because it is written by a feature writer that became friends with William Manchester. Paul Reid manages, after the great author’s death, to assemble William Manchester’s prodigious collection of notes about Winston Churchill to write a highly interesting, third and last, book of “The Last Lion” series. Reid does not have the story-telling polish of Manchester but his clever assembly of Manchester’s research opens history’s door to one of the most fascinating characters of WWII’s beginning, its evolution, its finish, and its aftermath.
One is left with the abiding belief that Great Britain needed Winston Churchill to survive WWII. It seems the circumstance of war, Churchill’s incredible physical stamina, his political acumen, and his extraordinary oratorical skill were Churchill’s late-in-life source of effectiveness and fame. The politics of war perfectly fit Churchill’s experience and qualification to be Prime Minister of Great Britain.
In contrast, Reid infers Churchill’s military strategy could have lost the war. It is not that Churchill could not learn from his mistakes but the magnitude of error and the paucity of resources (soldiers and equipment) increased Great Britain’s danger of defeat with even one, let alone several, tactical military mistakes. On the other hand, mistakes or not, Great Britain’s active military opposition forestalled German victory long enough for Russia and the United States to join in an Allied command that defeated the Axis powers. One wonders if any other leader could have done a better job under the circumstances.
Paul Reid provides a balanced picture of a great man in Volume 3 of “The Last Lion”. The surrounding cast of characters, though great in their own right, play their parts but Reid clearly shows Churchill is the man of the hour in the “sturm und drang” of WWII.
I have a theory for biographies: if they don't bore you in at least a few sections, they are not worth reading. That being said, this volume was my favorite of the series. The book maintained a good pace with a grounded view of Winston from a variety of sources. After ~125 hours of hearing of his life, I feel like I know him now.
After listening to this biography, I am amazed at his genius, strength of will, ability to overcome obstacles and faith & love in humanity.
I cried at his death.
Yes, I suppose. I've only listened to vol I and I thought that did a wonderful job of making WSC the center of WWI. I didn't get the same sense from this book - it was interesting but not as clearly focused.
WSC Vol I was a perfect biography- making the case that he was the most interesting character in this century.
This performance was OK but not as good as volume I. I didn't get as strong a sense of WSC'c voice.
I didn't actually finish this book, I got tired of listening to the end of the empire.
I think V3 is not as strong as V1 (didn't read V2). It doesn't center everything in WSC so I felt it turned into another history of WW2.
This giant is captured and displayed with great style, attention to detail, and depth. The writing is superb. The reading is incandescent.
Very exhaustive read due to all the great details Reid was able to get from Manchester's research. The right man at the right time during the war years for sure. The strategizing and politicking on a global stage at the big three fought through their own needs and ambitions to fight the axis menace. Reid closed by focusing on the mental struggle of losing influence as Churchill's twilight faded and he fought loneliness.
Sometimes you have to club a seal with a kitten
Yes and no. I listened to part I + II of this 3 volume set, so I wanted to listen to III. The voice acting is horrid. The actors pronunciation of German, as well as English, words is woeful. The books get progressively worse in this respect. Book I was excellent, Book II not so much, and this book is the worst.
Churchill. He was a master of the English language and the strongest leader of his century.