Outstanding description of one of the most consequential leaders of the last century. With elegance and detail, the author walks through the life of a man with will and determination in quantities denied to most mortals. Still, Mr. Reid points out the many shortcomings of a man that did not shy away from looking human, however embarrassingly it turned out at times.
While long, this book engaged me to the point of reading a few extra pages passed my predefined reading time. It is full of details exposed through the lens of the very precarious circumstances Great Britain lived throughout the war - first during the London blitz, then during its relegation to a second class power to Russia and the US -.
While the main goal of the book is to reflect a great man into a fair light it also gives a very interesting view into how the British government of the time worked and how sometimes political rivalries dictated national agendas beyond what one would hope democracy allows for.
All in all, it was a great book and one i would recommend to anyone looking for abundant information morphed into fun reading.
WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL LOVED HIS COUNTRY.
I WISH OUR POLITICIANS LOVED THE UNITED STATES THE WAY
WINSTON LOVED HIS ENGLAND!!
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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.
I never thought I would make it through all 7 but Winston held my attention though out this remarkable account.
I am writing this review with tears in my eyes. This book, like the others in the trilogy, is a masterpiece of human history. It's quality defies adequate description, and I am left with equal parts profound satisfaction at having completed the tale, and regret that I can never again experience it's beauty anew.
Read it. The book is a fantastic conclusion to Manchester's churchill trilogy, and one of the best WWII histories you will find. Narration is poignant and animating. Highly recommended.
I loved his original wit and strength of character. He was the right person for the trying time. This series stayed true to the old Winston Churchill honesty, regardless of the nature of the knowledge.
It took me 6 months of listening to get through William Manchester's three-part "William Spencer Churchill" biography series. Churchill's life is so long and so interesting that it takes that long to explain it all. This text is the big pay-off. You have to listen to the first two volumes to get the context of this one, but here you finally get to the best part--the war years. The great speeches. The courage. The dogged determination to defeat Hitler. The ruthless destruction of political rivals. This is Churchill at the height of his power. When you read this book, you will gain a perspective on the war and its aftermath that you didn't have before, because you will realize that for better or worse, Churchill's impact on the 20th century and the shape of geo-politics is a legacy that we grapple with today across the globe.
This text opens with an introduction by Paul Reid himself, wherein he explains how he came to know William Manchester, and how he came to complete the late biographer's final volume. This in itself is an interesting aside. After this introduction, Clive Chafer picks up the story right where volume two closes. Chafer does a good job, but I feel he doesn't do the "Churchill Voice" as well as the previous narrators. Granted, no-one can really replicate Churchill's voice because it is so unique, but the other narrators have done it better.
Paul Reid maintains a signature Manchester technique: focusing on "threads" which require jumps backward and forward in time, while simultaneously keeping a general chronology of Churchill's day-to-day activities. This can occasionally be hard to follow, but it shows how intricately the various people and events are woven together--they are the planets and Churchill is the constant sun.
While the technique of crafting the narrative is just like Manchester's, Reid's word-choice is more witty and sardonic--I often found myself chuckling darkly at Reid's gallows humor as he gleefully quotes diatribes from the diaries of Churchill's subordinates and relates the obstinacy and hubris that clouded the judgments of so many people in this period. The text paints an especially unpleasant portrait of FDR as a charming, narrow-minded, and ruthless opportunist; and of Eisenhower as a power-hungry technocrat with a foul mouth. So, if you are a big fan of those two men, best prepare for a different perspective.
The story is filled with triumph combined with tragedy. The most memorable moments that have stayed with me is the description of Churchill laughing at the sky, smoking his cigar and drinking his brandy on the roof of #10 Downing Street while the concussion from the bombs raining down on London blow out the windows of his house and light the city on fire. The image of Churchill weeping amid the detritus of the bombed-out shell of the House of Commons, flashing the "V" for victory while the city burns, made me have to pause the story and compose myself before getting out of my car. This is a man that in the moments when democracy was literally being destroyed stood among the wreckage and refused to yield even an inch. It really makes you think about whether there is any world leader alive today, in any country, that would have the force of will to stand up to the forces of evil and drive his country to victory over odds so overwhelming.
When Churchill first travelled to the United States, he came by steam-ship that carried sails in case the engines failed. The journey took nearly a month on stormy seas. On his last visit to the United States before his death, he flew first-class on a Boeing 707. I think this encapsulates the scope of Churchill's life. Churchill's story is really the story of the 20th century itself and the end of the British empire.
This book is long. There are moments where the minutiae of the day-to-day do get tedious. But by the end, you will have a deep understanding of this time period, Churchill's role in it, and how we live with his legacy today. Happy listening.
A thorough and balanced biography of Churchill from 1940-65. I thought this book--of the three book trilogy--was clearly the best. The author, unlike many others, does not necessarily fall in love with his subject, He is objective. All the while, Paul Reid painstakingly sets the stage of WWII itself. This provides a wonderful backdrop to Churchill's goings on. Hence, we essentially have WWII from Churchill's vantage point. For me, this is a refreshing way to read about WWII.