Spanning the years 1940 to 1965, Defender of the Realm, the third volume of William Manchester’s The Last Lion, picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became prime minister - when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill portrayed by Manchester and Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning-fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action.
This volume brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation’s military response and defense, compelled President Roosevelt to support America’s beleaguered cousins, and personified the "never surrender" ethos that helped the Allies win the war, while at the same time adapting himself and his country to the inevitable shift of world power from the British Empire to the United States.
More than 20 years in the making, The Last Lion presents a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of this brilliant, flawed, and dynamic leader. This is popular history at its most stirring.
©2012 William Manchester (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc
"Before his death in 2004, an ill Manchester asked former Cox newspapers journalist Reid to take his research notes and finish writing the final volume of his trilogy. The long-delayed majestic account of Winston Churchill’s last 25 years is worth the wait…. Manchester matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris, joining this elite bank of writers who devote their lives to one subject." (Publishers Weekly)
"General readers, as always, will be taken by [Manchester's] boundless abilities as a storyteller…. Essential for Manchester collectors, WWII buffs, and Churchill completists." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A big book but reads easily…. The finished book is a worthy conclusion to what must be considered one of the most thorough treatments of Churchill so far produced. An essential conclusion to Manchester's magnum opus." (Library Journal)
Read it. The book is a fantastic conclusion to Manchester's churchill trilogy, and one of the best WWII histories you will find. Narration is poignant and animating. Highly recommended.
I loved his original wit and strength of character. He was the right person for the trying time. This series stayed true to the old Winston Churchill honesty, regardless of the nature of the knowledge.
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!
"FIRST AND SECOND EPISODE NOT AVAILABLE ON UK SITE"
Some day, but given I just spent over 50 hours in 2 weeks listening to it, not for a while
A great man with a great task, achieved
Being read the book was a luxury that allowed me to consume it whilst driving, doing chores, and a dozen different tasks, where I couldn't possibly have read the text in the amount of reading time I would have in those 2 weeks
it is the greatest tale of the modern age - World War II, and Churchill's own part in it
On first listening to the book I thought it slightly monotone, with a poor impersonation of Churchill by the narrator. As it continued, I became blind to the tone, and found what I had considered to be an 'impression' was in fact a reading with metre and cadence that allowed Churchill's words to be read in the gravitas the man himself had. Simply a great book I couldn't stop listening to - sometimes 7 hours in a day. I wish I'd known the first 2 books weren't available on the UK site, but knowing what I do now I would still have got the book
At over 53 hours, this is a vast undertaking to listen to, let alone to have written. It starts just before Churchill takes power in May 1940 and ends with his death. The earlier volumes were written by William Manchester alone, whilst this is written almost entirely by Paul Reid, using the notes compiled by the dying Manchester.
With good narration, this is a competent telling of the great man's story, rich in detail. It is written with an American audience in mind, covering most key moments well. I say "most", as there are some that I feel lack some relevant detail. An example would be the machinations around Churchill's appointment in 1940, the rumblings of revolt amongst the establishment for peace in the months after his appointment, and Yalta, which is disposed of in jarringly short order.
The years after Churchill's loss of the 1945 election are covered in the last 8 or so hours of the book. This seems too short; he was, after all, Prime Minister for much of the 1950's, and lived for a further 10 years, if increasingly frail and inactive.
Another area which lacks critical analysis is the relationship between Churchill and the Americans, especially Roosevelt. It is clear that Roosevelt handles Churchill with calculation and barely concealed cynicism. Churchill, for his part, appears extraordinarily naive in comparison, although this may be simply a realistic acceptance of his subsidiary role. This critical nexus in his life demands critical analysis, especially when so much of the book describes these dealings in detail. Perhaps this is hard for an American to do, perhaps Paul Reid's relative inexperience meant he had his hands full just getting all of this down.
Nevertheless, these are minor criticisms given the scale of the work. It rams home what a wonderful, full life this great man led.
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