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 am writing this review for both volumes and putting it in both places. This is a well narrated story written by what has been described as the best biographer of the 20th Century about a man who was perhaps the greatest man to live in the 20th Century. What's not to like?
Both volumes have advantages over the other (listed below), but bottom line is that both are marvelous works. I doubt too many will be able to read Volume I without soon proceeding to Volume II. Volume I pluses include a better narrator (***** vs ****) (I was impressed with his mature Churchill voice and amazed that he started with a good child Churchill and gradually aged him into the famous voice we all love!), a more narrative/chronological layout as opposed to more topical, and illumination of the transition of the Victorian age through WWI and up to the Depression. This is a time of which I knew little relative to what came before and after. Volume II has the obvious advantage of fleshing out the rise of Hitler and explaining how the Appeasers were a product of their times.
I know it will take close to 80 hours to listen to both, but the time will fly and you will wish you could listen to Volume III, which was unfortunately never written. Both books are great though I slightly preferred the first volume.
Perhaps you will be tempted to tune in to Richard Brown's reading of _The Last Lion_, as I have. I wouldn't recommend it for bed time. In my experience it's impossible to stop the playback... one can't wait to see what will happen next. Brown's voice is appropriate to the age covered in the book - almost over the top by today's standards, but I believe you'll find it perfectly natural before long. It soon ceases to do anything but enhance the natural interest of the material.
_The Last Lion_ is a famous biographical work. The reputation is deserved. William Manchester does not shy away from a critical consideration of Churchill's jingoism, egoism, changing positions, et cetera, but nonetheless the figure that arises from imperial boyhood into a peerage long sought - and influence - is right in all of the big things as his changing nation faces the new century. Winston's genius with its tongue is revelled in through the book in extensive brief quotes. Truly this was a great man.
This book truly is an impressive work - exhaustive, detailed, spinning a tremendous picture of the life and times of Winston Churchill from his birth to his years in the wilderness. I have to say, however: 40 hours is a LOT of listening and there are parts - those mostly describing the world as it stood overall - that could definitely stand editing. Yet given this book is 40 hours, and I am remaining engaged all the way through - an impressive accomplishment.
This is Manchester at his very best -- a richly detailed and beautifully written biography of the 20th Century's most extraordinary figure. Frederick Davidson's narration is pitch perfect throughout. He breathes life into the characters, uncannily capturing their voices and personalities. His handling of Churchill in particular is remarkable -- it is hard to believe that you're not hearing the voice of Churchill himself. Listening to this book is a thoroughly enriching experience. I intend to listen to Volume II as well, but I can tell from the sample that Richard Brown's narration will suffer by comparison to Davidson's. I cannot imagine why Blackstone switched to Brown for Volume II after Davidson did such an exceptional job with Volume I.
A brilliant portrayal of a brilliant man.Startlingly comprehensive. Davidson is a master lectioner and may do a better Churchill than Churchill himself. Young men on the brink of reality (with college dwindling) must hear Davidson tell Churchill's story. Its depiction of a man watching an imperial collapse and a world at war are too compelling to be ignored.
I can't praise this audio book enough. Aside from the captivating and balanced portrait of Churchill, anyone interested in 20th Century history will find this title to be both exhilarating and unforgettable. Frederick Davidson does an outstanding job of unfolding the tale. I usually find character voicing impressions intolerable, but Davidson is the master. Transcribing Churchill's notes and abbreviations into audible sense is an art in itself. I shall seek out Davidson's other titles. Great download, in every sense.
Never did I understand so well what it was like to be English at the early years of the 1900s. Never did I understand why the US revolted and why John Adams fell out of favor. Awesome book that puts you in English society. The history of Churchill is awesome as well. You couldn't make this stuff up and never could I have imagined it on my own.
Hard to engage a book of this length but I found it very worthwhile.
The L. L. is a stretch for the non-British ear, but well worth the struggle. At first I found the exhaustive overview of the Victoran era, well...exhaustive. Then it became intoxicating. I found myself wishing for a time machine so I could see the empire at its zenith first hand. Manchester does an excellent job of connecting the eccentricities of Churchill's political style with his outrageous childhood and over the top parents. For the rest of his life, Winston tried meeting the curious standards and expectations of his absentee father and floozie mother. I plan to do part II some day, but right now I am exhausted.
Oh, yes. The reader is simply spectacular.
Don't know whether I have or not, but Davidson has to be one of the best readers ever.
No, much too long.
It's an endlessly fascinating story. I've listened to it now, several times. Manchester is a worldclass writer, but what makes it all work is Davidson. He absolutely channels Churchill. He turns a book into an experience.
"Let us not delude ourselves by thinking that there is any substitute for victory."
I began this with little knowledge of Churchill's life; having finished, I think he's an indispensable figure for our times.
Our current president recently returned the bust of Churchill that Great Britain had given the US after 9/11. That's unfortunate... Churchill's resolve and principled will are as valuable now as they were seventy years ago.
Great book, great writer, great man.
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