Keegan looks at Churchill's speeches, which are some of the greatest examples of English oratory, and identifies his ability to communicate his own idea of an English past as the source of Churchill's greatness. He also sheds light on the political climate of Churchill's time. The result is an insightful, sensitive portrait of Churchill the war leader and Churchill the man.
©2002 John Keegan; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.
"This is a pithy, highly accessible biography that can be enjoyed over a couple of sittings." (Publishers Weekly)
"Those familiar with Churchill will discover that Keegan offers new interpretations while expertly narrating to newcomers (the book's core audience) the high points of Churchill's extraordinary life." (Booklist)
I didn't know much about Winston Churchill's life, and wanted to learn more, but didn't want to sink myself into a long, detailed tome. This book was the right choice for me. It was informative, but not intimidating or boring. The story flows smoothly, chronologically, from Churchill's youth to old age, just like a proper biography should. After listening to the book twice, I now feel like I have a reasonable understanding of who Winston Churchill was and why his role in history is considered so significant. I thought the narrator was great, although I can imagine some people might not like his Churchill impression.
The narrator is a bit too much for me. I prefer a straight un-dramatized read but the book itself is good. This was my first serious exposure to Winston Churchill and I would recommend it to any casual student of history. For those looking for an exhaustive study I would recommend that they look elsewhere.
Have you had the experience of reading Dickens’s Oliver Twist and then watching a two-hour theater production of it? If you have, you may recall thinking, "Gee, everything is happening so fast!" You’ll get the same feeling if you’ve read Manchester and Reid on the life of Churchill and then found yourself reading Keegan’s book. "Gee, everything is happening so fast!" To give you a feel for the speed of the thing, notice that years 1941 through 1945 are covered in a single chapter of 20 pages.
I didn't read the book; rather, I listened to it. The reader, Richard Matthews, did a good job, although, not (in my opinion) the job Clive Chafer, the reader of the third volume of the The Last Lion, did. Chafer was a hard act to follow.
If you’re looking for a brief overview of Churchill’s war years, this might be the book for you. Having just read the Manchester-Reid volume, Keegan’s book, but for its final chapter (“Apotheosis”) felt like a waste of time. That last chapter, though, was well worth the price of the book. Essentially, it was analysis of the extent to which we ought to admire Churchill. The author concluded that he was indeed worthy of the greatest admiration; most anyone familiar with the great man is sure to agree.
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