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Publisher's Summary

This second volume in William Manchester's three-volume biography of Winston Churchill challenges the assumption that Churchill's finest hour was as a wartime leader. During the years 1932-1940, he was tested as few men are. Pursued by creditors (at one point he had to put up his home for sale), he remained solvent only by writing an extraordinary number of books and magazine articles. He was disowned by his own party, and dismissed by the BBC, Fleet Street, and the social and political establishments as a warmonger, and twice nearly lost his seat in Parliament. Churchill stood almost alone against Nazi aggression and the pusillanimous British and French policy of appeasement.

Manchester tracks with new insights this complex, fascinating history, without ever losing sight of Churchill the man - a man whose vision was global and whose courage was boundless.

©1988 William Manchester (P)1990 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

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  • S. Horn
  • Cary, NC, United States
  • 12-12-11

Senseless change of narrators

Volume 1 of The Last Lion is one of the top five Audible books among the hundreds I have experienced. Manchester's scholarship is astounding, and the story of this great man's life and times is endlessly fascinating. That much remains true in Volume 2, but the book is tragically diminished by the narration of Richard Brown.

Frederick Davidson, the narrator of Volume I, was absolutely perfect. When Manchester quoted Churchill, Davidson spoke in Churchill's own voice. It was as if someone had recorded Churchill, himself, for each statement. Churchill's humor and emotion come through as if he were speaking directly to the listener. Brown, on the other hand, cannot even begin to imitate Churchill's intonation and cadence, much less the subtler meanings behind the words. As a matter of fact, Brown would have been better off, as would the listener, if he had not even tried. If he had just read Manchester's words, it would not have come off as so, well, amateurish. The only thing Brown's rendition of Churchill and Churchill himself have in common is an English accent.

It is deeply disappointing. I am hoping that I can convince myself to finish this volume, simply for the historical information it can provide. However, that's a far cry from the way I felt about Volume I, when I could scarcely force myself to turn off my Nano early enough to get a decent night's sleep. I feel like a kid who got stiffed by Santa. I just don't get it. Whoever decided that ANYONE other than Frederick Davidson should render this work needs his (her?) head examined.

40 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Superb - Review of Both Volume I & Volume II

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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Poor narration, but excellent book

Were it not for the poor narration, I would definitely rate this book higher than Manchester's first volume. It certainly is a wonderful effort by Manchester to make sense of his time outside of the British government. You will share with Winston the frustration of being alone in a time of appeasement at any price. Nevertheless, the book treats Chamberlain rather fairly, despite his obvious blindness in judging Hitler.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Terrible narrator

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I could not understand two thirds of what Richard Brown was saying. This destroyed the value of the book.

What other book might you compare The Last Lion to and why?

I never had a book with such a bad narrator

How could the performance have been better?

Get somebody else to read the book

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The content is fascinating whenever I could understand what the narrator was saying.

Any additional comments?

This will be 36 hours of torture. can I return the book?

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • Milford, ON, Canada
  • 06-24-08

Worth it

Manchester does such a good job of bringing this period to life it is an excellent listen.

And surprisingly you will also find a few wry smiles in his work.

I enjoyed it better than the first volume, which dealt WSC's younger life. It too is good but not a period I'm truly interested in.

This takes us to up to WSC becoming PM. I don't believe Manchester wrote the 3rd volume where Winston is actually war Prime Minister.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Incredible life and writing, narration not for me

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Richard Brown?

I may be able to listen to other Richard Brown narrations, but not when it requires quoting a distinctive person from history. In volume I Frederick Davidson did a masterful job of channeling Churchill. It was as if all of Churchill's early life was "on the mic". I believed I was listening to Churchill himself. Unfortunately Brown cannot pull it off, and it is a let down. As great as Manchester's writing is I don't think I can put myself through Volume II wishing I was listening to Davidson every time WSC is quoted. If you like Richard Brown's voice then get this Book. It's incredible history.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good book, poorly read.

The last, unfortunately, of William Manchester's planned multi-volume biography of WSC. I purchased and read the book many years ago. As I had some driving time ahead this summer I thought it would be fun to re-visit it by istening to it in the car. Mistake!
The narrator makes the book very difficult to listen to. He has an odd tendency to swallow final syllables of words making it hard at times to understand the meaning. Also, he cannot resist the dreadful temptation to "imitate" Churchill when his words are quoted; which is very often of course.
This is a pet peeve of mine and, in my opinion, as his imitation is bad it makes the listening tedious in the extreme: "an outrage up with which I will not put". ;-)

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

good book; lackluster narrator

I didn't enjoy Brown as much as Davidson as a narrator. He seemed to try to mimio Churchill's speaking rhythm too much.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A Man Who Changed History

What did you love best about The Last Lion?

The whole portrait of Winston, both his virtues and his foibles.
And the historical WWI with anecdotes describing the horrors of war

Who was your favorite character and why?

Winston, of course

How could the performance have been better?

There needs to be a better volume control. It is difficult to hear unless you are in a totally silent setting. Very disappointing as I listen in the car and on a treadmill. TURN IT UP!!!!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Impossible. 42 hrs. and 39 minutes made this a long read

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Best Churchill Biographies

Manchester's 2 volume The Last Lion epic are the best biographies about Churchill and may in fact be the best biographies ever written. Manchester spent, quite literally, decades researching his subject. His books not only give an excellent portrayal of their subject, but the times and society in which Churchill lived. I believe it would be a crime to read/listen to only an abridged version (should one even exist). Of the two audio books, I felt Brown was the superior narrator. His natural accent fits the book perfectly, and you always knew when he was quoting Churchill directly due to the timbre of his voice when doing so. I found myself genuinely disappointed on finishing vol. 2 because, sadly, Manchester didn't live long enough to write a third volume addressing Churchill's life during his Finest Hour. Don't miss this excellent audio book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful