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Norm Frink

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  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume I: Visions of Glory 1874-1932

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (743)
    Performance
    (435)
    Story
    (433)

    Winston Churchill is perhaps the most important political figure of the 20th century. His great oratory and leadership during the Second World War were only part of his huge breadth of experience and achievement. Studying his life is a fascinating way to imbibe the history of his era and gain insight into key events that have shaped our time.

    Wolfpacker says: "Superb - Review of Both Volume I & Volume II"
    "Regarding both volumes."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Regarding both volumes there is much to like: they are superbly written and, of course, the subject could not be more interesting. However, in answer to the question by a prior reviewer of "what's not to like?," there are some very questionable historical assertions, particularly in volume two.

    One example is characteristic of Manchester's sometimes reckless scholarship. He states as fact that had Hitler not entered into the Munich agreement and ordered the invasion of Czechoslovakia that Hadler had in place coup plans that he was about to order. This assertion relies for the most part on post-war trial testimony by German generals who were trying to get out from under the charge of agreesive war. It is very questionable. As most historians show (read Evans and Kershaw for example) there was a lot of plotting and talking going on in some elements of the German military but there is no hard evidence that a coup had reached a final organizational stage and would have be successful it it had. In fact, it wasn't until German was partically on its knees and the war was clearly lost in July of 1944 that they finally did something and even then it didn't work.

    Another example of many in volume two is the assertion that the offensive plan for the May 1940 was Hitler's original idea. Of course, he later claimed it was and he certainly gets credit for going with a great plan, but most historians agree the idea did not originate with him. I could go on.

    It really got so I had to fact check constantly in volume two. Any there was some of it In volume one. For a much for convincing discussion of Churchill's relationship with Fischer, which Manchester presents as inexplicable, see Gallipoli by Robert James. It's kind of like what Manchester did with The Death of a President where he took something that was true (that there was a climate of right wing hate in Dallas) and connected to Kennedy's killing. In fact there was no connection between the two because Kennedy was killed by a left wing activitist who had just tried to kill a leading right wing figure in Texas 8 months before killed Kennedy. Or what Manchester did with what people thought were his Pacific War memiors where he just made things up. Having said all this, they are very enjoyable books. I just hope (particularly in volume one) that there aren't too many errors I didn't caught.

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