50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction
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.
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.
I've been waiting for this one for a long time - how could they have entrusted this important and LONG work to a narrator who mis-pronounces the most basic English names and words. This should have been read by a British speaker not an American. God give me patience!
Christian Rodska who read the four-volume history of World War II written by Churchill would have been the ideal narrator. This guy is awful. Sorry.
William Manchester has written an in-depth biography of Sir Winston from the time he took over the premiership of Parliament at the outbreak of the second world war, until his death.
He doesn't minimise Winston's faults, but he is very sympathetic to the man, and outlines the extreme difficulties he had to deal with in keeping both his allies and his senior officers in sympathy with his plans. Certainly his oratory won the masses, and his tenacious belief in the cause he was espousing, kept him going in spite of severe and often unjustified criticim when others of a lesser calibre would have capitulated
Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.
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 was ready to feel cheated when I learned, in the introduction, that Wm Manchester didn't write this book. He assembled all the data. Paul Reid wrote the book after Manchester's death. So the "written by" Wm Manchester line is deceptive. But it's impossible to feel cheated. Reid is an excellent historian in his own right. He takes an extremely complex period of history, and a complex array of characters, and weaves them into a gripping and understandable web. Don't assume this book is only about Winston Churchill. He's the main character, and the main reason I picked up the book. But the book is also about the politics of World War II, and the economics, and the military campaigns, and the major personalities. Not just of Churchill, not just of the English leaders, but of the key players in Britain, America, Russia, and even Germany and Japan.
Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August". The same world-spanning grasp of history, and a similar narrative ability to make complex history understandable. Also, "First Blood: the Story of Fort Sumter" by Swanberg. A similar all-encompassing, multi-faceted history. Much shorter than the other two books though.
Don't be ridiculous. This is an enormous and multi-dimensional book, that will give you a satisfying two months of listening.
Beware of the introduction. It's not by narrator Clive Chafer, who is a very good narrator. It's by the writer, Paul Reid. Reid is an excellent writer, as I said, but he gets a D- as a narrator. That's not his thing. Fortunately, after the introduction, Clive Chafer comes on, and the narrating becomes professional and a pleasure to listen to.Craig.
Iranians keep their nukes, Americans lose their insurance.
Just ok for overall WWII history. Many other books are better.
No. Clive Chafer is awful. Just awful. The first 15 mintues by Paul Reid were some of the most fascinating tales about The Old Man I have ever heard! Then it goes from great to lousy in one Clive Chafer.
NO to Clive Chafer. Paul Reid is cool.
Make the freekin' story about Winnie!
I did not want a WWII book. I wanted to read about The Man. This book is mostly about everything and for that it does a superficial job.
The unflinching portrait of WSC, in all of his complex, and often contradictory, human extra-ordinariness, is carried on in this volume as masterfully as it was in Vols. I and II. What makes this one so much more enjoyable is the almost minute-by-minute depiction of life in England, among the people and the government, and in the Western World during WWII. It is a triumph of biography that the author, while obviously in awe of Churchill and the "great man" he was -- or that he became in these circumstances -- does not gloss over his subject's faults, errors and shortcomings, making a fascinating and realistic work and a totally enjoyable listen. At 50+ hours it is a monumental undertaking, but never a wasted moment!
This book could have been twice as good if it had been half as long.
Reid could not make up his mind; sometimes the book is a biography of Churchill, at other times it attempts to be a military history of WWII.
As a biographer, Reid makes Churchill sound like a bore who ate too much, drank too much, slept too little and monopolized every conversation. The Churchill in this volume bears little resemble to the man described in the first two volumes of this trilogy or in the books by Lukacs, Jenkins and others.
On the military side, Reid's relies far too much on Churchill's memoirs and Brooke's diary, both of which were far from objection. In particular, Reid fails to grasp that Churchill was a poor tactician and even worse strategist, but lacked any insight into his limitations. Reid fails to grasp that one of Roosevelt's greatest strengths was his willingness to defer to Marshall on military matters and not "play solider." Reid's portrait of Roosevelt is absurd and has no basis in fact.
Chafer soldiers on through Reid dull, endless prose.
Read Lukacs or Jenkins instead.