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
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.
I have been a follower of all things Winston Churchill for a long time. This book was another must read for me. It was a bit long on the war and short on the life afterwards but worth the effort. I bought the book and followed along with the audible narration. I must admit I would have stumbled in the comprehension a bit without the narration. At 1050 plus pages it was a good audiobook to purchase because of the shear volume and mass of the subject material.
The inner workings of the mind of WSC were most interesting.
The least interesting was the minutiae of some of the lesser war time battles and encounters.
No, I have not listened to any other performances of these men before.
The affirmation of facts previuosly known about the great man. Also, WSC's big ideas were sometimes both hairbrained and interesting at same time
Good Book....Long Story
Its a pity that the American Author reads the prolog - could not imagine a Brit reading the pro log of a book on Washington.
Having said that Paul Reid has done an excellent job at re-creating the events that shaped the World we currently enjoy.
Suggest you skip the prolog (I did) and sit back and enjoy.
The Lion Roars