In political office at the end of WWI, Churchill foresaw the folly of Versailles and feared what a crippled Germany would do to the balance of power. In his years in the political wilderness, from 1931 to 1939, he alone of all British public men, continually raised his voice against Hitler and his appeasers. For over 50 years, he was constantly involved in, and usually at the center of, the most important events of his age. It was, however, his obduracy on matters of principle, his fortitude in the face of opposition, and his perseverance in standing alone that defined him.
©1983 William Manchester; (P)1990 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Manchester is not only a master of detail but also of 'the big picture'....I daresay most Americans reading The Last Lion will relish it immensely." (National Review)
"[Manchester] can claim the considerable achievement of having assembled enough powerful evidence to support Isaiah Berlin's judgment of Churchill as the largest human being of our time." (Alistair Cooke)
I grabbed this audiobook as the second I had ever purchased on Audible on a whim. I had just finished watching a short documentary on Chruchill and wanted to learn a little bit more about him.
I grabbed this with one of my precious credits, figuring the extraordinary length could help me stretch that credit into a couple of months. I wasn't wrong.
However, don't let the length of this audiobook put you off, nor it subject matter, which in the wrong hand could be very dry. Manchester was the perfect man to write this biography (and at time I have a hard time calling it that.)
The reason I have a hard time calling this just a biography, is that Churchill the man was very much a product of the era he was born in and the era in which he was raised. In keeping with that, Manchester does an amazing job giving a history lesson on late Victorian England and the end of a century. It's as much a biography as a historical piece on a time period. The time period is as much a part of Churchill as Churchill is of it.
The author often leaves the subject of solely Churchill to explore the end of the Victorian era, and I often would not even notice. Manchester does an amazing job world building the past and placing Churchill within that world so that his story is so much richer.
The book follows Churchill from his early, and often troubled childhood to the end of an era and the begging of another. The rise of Nazism in post-World War I Europe.
The narration is superb. I only wish Davidson had done the other two in this trilogy. His accent is spot on and his Churchill is amazing. He ages the voice and you are able to hear the childlike innocence give way to the exuberance of a young military officer, to the strength and decisiveness of the Lord of the Admiralty.
One of my favorite things though was the different accents Davidson would affect. Especially the American. Interesting to hear an Englishman do an American accent and he did an excellent job.
If you have any interest in Churchill, the United Kingdom, World War I, or the Victorian Era and the beginning of the 20th century, I highly recommend this audiobook! You will definitely get the full value of your credit here!
No, seriously, the book is amazingly funny. For all I've admired and respected Churchill, the thought of him bursting out in a theater "If the donkey dies, I should leave" was just awesomely funny. Certainly the well known wit is featured, but the, very human, playfulness he showed to his wife and children made for genuine humor.
Yes, it's a mindbogglingly thorough history of the man, and it's not all fun. Some of it is simply heart wrenching. Some reads like an adventure novel. However, if you're not laughing a good bit this book you probably should see a professional about it.
Obviously, this is not a book for the casual listener. But if you are interested in the history of the Victorian period, WWI, the English Empire, or (obviously) Winston Churchill himself, you will not regret downloading this book. It is thorough, but not tedious, which in a book this length is quite the accomplishment. It is a far from a simple hagiography - we see Churchill with all his warts and poor decisions without any attempt at justifying or or explaining away incongruities. It does a good job portraying the wonderful complexity of the circumstances and personality that go into producing a great man like Churchill.
The reader deserves a special mention - his Churchill voice is very good, his accents are very good (except his Russian one!), and his reading is simply perfect for this volume. I highly recommend this audiobook.
It's difficult to convey how remarkable and influential Sir Winston Churchill was to the unfolding of the 20th century and, in fact, the fate of the world. It's also hard to explain how many truly bizarre turns he experienced throughout his life. His sad, strange upbringing coupled with a brilliance unmatched by any of his peers turns this early-years biography into an epic journey repleat with danger, disappointment, intrige, betrayal and triumph. Even his fiercest detractors admired him for his ample gifts.What a joy to have this first volume narrated by Frederick Davidson whose masterful Churchillian mimickery brings Victorian and Eduardian England to vivid life.There are times where the level of detail is such that the mind drifts away momentarily, but I think that's a function of Manchester's desire to get it all down while there were contemporaries who knew Churchill personally. Do yourself a favor and do not skip this volume to jump into the war years. This book is well worth the telling nd certainly worth a listen. Well done!
The book is written in very elegant prose which is at the same time easily digestible and entertaining. The pacing is superb.
Winston and I both struggled with similar difficulties throughout childhood. That he overcame his is great inspiration to me.
Loved the information in the book. Not only was history of Churchill interesting, the history and mores of the culture were very enlightening. The narrator does an excellent job with all of the character voices.
I loved the way Frederick Davidson embellishes the stories with dramatic voices (Winston with a lisp, the Queen, his disinterested mother's letters, his nanny) and even sings a song or two now and then. His accent is perfect, his French delicious, his pace just right. It is clear that he is interested in the book, not just processing words.
His voice. His timing. He makes the humorous parts even funnier and the tragic parts even sadder.
The litany of written pleas by Winston for visits or letters from his parents while away at Harrow is so effective because it is a series of direct quotes from correspondence woven deftly by the author into a narrative without it seeming like a list. Just one example of how great this author is.
This is an almost effortless way to learn more about culture and the politics of the time.
Not only a biography, William Manchester vividly sets the stage of the Victorian England that Churchill grew up in. His young life is just as engrossing as his WWII years, and taught me so much that I did not know. Also have to say that it is BRILLIANTLY narrated by Frederick Davidson, who has a great voice and an even better Churchill impression. I am on to volume 2 and am pretty disappointed that it was not the same narrator, I loved Frederick Davidson so much. I am just getting started so hopefully it will get better, but I can't imagine anyone doing a better Churchill.
He has a gift for accents, and his Churchill from boyhood into adulthood was astonishingly real.
Don't let the length of this volume scare you off. If you are at all interested in modern history, this is a fascinating and enlightening book. It seems like Manchester includes everything there is to be known about Churchill's early life. This is all told against the extremely rich background of the last days of Victorian England and the glory of the British Empire, upon which "the sun never sets". I found the material describing the Victorian era and the empire to be fascinating and enriching as well.
Finally, Frederick Davidson is an extremely thoughtful and talented narrator, and this volume represents the most perfect match of narrator to subject that I have ever heard. His "Churchillian" voice is virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Tough call...but, the best I've invested in to date.
The sweep of History and geopolitics--an amazing story.
See more detailed comments in VOL 2 review.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content