From a very young age, Churchill believed he was destined to play a great role in the life of his nation, and he determined to prepare himself. Jenkins shows in fascinating detail how Churchill educated himself for greatness, how he worked out his livelihood (writing) as well as his professional life (politics), how he situated himself at every major site or moment in British imperial and governmental life. His parliamentary career was like no other - with its changes of allegiance (from the Conservative to the Liberal and back to the Conservative Party), its troughs and humiliations, its triumphs and peaks - and for decades, especially the crisis years of the late 1930s and the terrifying 1940s, when at last it was clear how vital Churchill was to the very survival of Britain. He evaluates Churchill's other accomplishments, his writings, with equal authority.
Exceptional in its breadth of knowledge and distinguished by its stylish wit and penetrating intelligence, this is one of the finest political biographies of our time.
©2001 Roy Jenkins; (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A first-class, well-sustained work of history and a masterpiece of biography." (The Sunday Telegraph)
"This is far and away Churchill's best one-volume biography." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
This is a LONG book (and thus great value for money). You get not only the portrait of Churchill as a confident, sometimes bungling, always charistmatic figure, but also Jenkins's insights into the British political scene. For instance, when he says that chancellors of the exchequer often expect to become prime minister, he making a wry comment on his own lost expectations. There is just enough analysis and just enough political gossip to make it all fun, and even to sustain suspense, given that we know how it is all going to turn out. The reader is great. He "does" Churchill just well enough to be believable, but not with such emphasis as to be annoying. I have listened to all 25 disks and when my Altzheimers does its job I'll start all over again. The ONLY negative is the time it took to download!
This book is a filled with detail and very well described events. I had little knowledge of the life of Winston Churchill or the workings of the government he briefly led before reading this book. I can say that Jenkins left no stone unturned and has written a truly exceptional book.
The narration is exceptional. No annoying flaws in the narrators reading style and maintains a steady pace.
Only 4 stars due to the, in my opinion, overuse of insignificant names throughout the book which made some sections slightly difficult to follow.
This is a big book about a larger than life man. The book captures you early on and then somewhere around WW1 it let me go and it seemed like a chore to stick with the minutia especially between the wars. There seemed to be just too much detail in this book
This is a gossipy, chatty, sometimes catty and not always favorable biography of Winston S. Churchill. Among other things, the author was a former MP and political insider holding various offices in government. His father, Arthur Jenkins was a parliamentary private secretary to Clement Attlee - the man who defeated Churchill immediately after WWII. Some of Churchill's most famous aphorisms were insulting to Clement Attlee (A modest man, who has much to be modest about) and one wonders how Roy Jenkins felt about that and if it had any influence on the book.
Regardless, the book presumes the reader is more acquainted with English history and the English system of government than is likely for most Americans. The book focuses almost entirely on the inner political workings of government during Churchill's (and Jenkin's) time. It's also marred by diversions about various political figures who appear only briefly and don't have much to do with Churchill. The reader in England may be familiar with these characters and be interested in what happened to them but the American reader will not. It's almost more of a memoir than a biography because the author often inserts himself especially in the years in which he served in Parliament with Churchill.
I would first recommend William Manchester for a more complete picture of Churchill, even though it's longer and, ironically, incomplete.
I will say the voice characterizations by Robert Whitfield are excellent. By a change in accent or tone he is able to indicate a change in speaker leaving no doubt who is being quoted. This was extremely helpful. In particular, he does a decent imitation of Churchill himself. Even 40 years after his death, Churchill's words and voice are so familiar that it would be disconcerting to hear them spoken any other way.
A hefty volume that just might be the way to go for someone doing their PHD thesis, it leaves a lot to be desired for a reader just trying to get a sense of the era. While it shows Churchill to be at times pragmatic, and at other times bumbling, it dwelt too much on each speech that he gave and each bill that he voted on. Even though Jenkins made a noble effort to "Americanize" his view of Parliament, the British election system, etc., the book is probably a bit to heavy for the American public unfamiliar with many of the British terms. In summary, a interesting work for research purposes but too heavy for everyday reading.
This book was the cradle to grave story of Winston Churchill. The detailed account of his early years and rise to public office gives the listener a glimpse into one very interesting fellow. With the understanding of Churchill that I gained through listening, the actions in World WarI and World War II can be seen through another lens.
I really do not enjoy disparaging something that someone has obviously worked so hard to make, but I owe it to my fellow commuters. Do not get this book. This is the only audible book that I failed to finish. Almost every sentence follows the established format of a persuasive essay - which would be fine if a sentence could be a persuasive essay, but it clearly should not be.
Each sentence begins with a lengthy introductory portion wherein the basic premise of the sentence is set forth and multiple facts are spilled out, then there is a maddeningly distracting section which attempts to concede to various opposing view points, followed, then, by several more sections that provide evidence to support the introductory portion, and this may, or may not, be followed by a concluding section which may, or may not, summarize the prior analysis - and all of this within the confines of a capital letter and a period.
Now, if you enjoyed my last sentence, then, by all means, buy the book. And if you are a commuter, then it is accurate to say that there are literally miles of these sentences. If you are interested in Churchill, then stick with William Manchester.
If you only want to get an overview of the man's life, this book is not for you. This book is for the reader who knows the basics of Churchill's long career but who would like to learn more (many more) of the details in between.
Churchill has his strengths and his flaws and this book isn't shy about exploring them in detail through each phase of his life. One quote that stands out in my mind is one where his young grandchild gets through the usual attendants and enters Churchill's study and asks "Grandpapa, is it true that you are the greatest man in the world?" To which his sweet grandfather answered: "Yes, now bugger off".
I found the narration excellent. Not only did the narrator imitate a good Churchill but he switched to good Scots, Welsh, Afrikaner, American and working class English accents with ease.
The reader, first of all, was wonderful. He provided realistic voices to the characters including the women (which many male readers get wrong).
The book was fascinating. A wonderfully complete biography of Churchill. I gained a very good understanding of Churchill's strengths and weaknesses without distracting from his incredible role in history.
A little too focused on details of British Parliament. This is not surprising since it is written by a Parliament Member but as a parochial American, some of the details were hard to follow. Overall, excellent though with great information and insight.
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