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Publisher's Summary

His friend, colleague, and esteemed political foe Clement Attlee once memorialized Winston Churchill as "the greatest Englishman of our time - I think the greatest citizen of the world of our time." More than a half-century later, Churchill's life remains proof that a single individual can change the course of history for the better and make of life a blessed and noble thing, despite public and private trials too numerous to name.

Who was this extraordinary man who rose up at an hour when freedom and right stood in mortal peril before tyranny and terror to rally the British people? To say with courage, genius, and eloquence, "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"

Moreover, how did he accomplish this amazing feat? And how was it that this achievement was just a single part of a long and fruitful life in a stunning array of endeavors?

In these 12 inspiring lectures, Professor Fears presents a well-balanced portrait of Churchill that does not whitewash his flaws. Yet he also draws on the most recent historical scholarship and material from Churchill's writings and speeches to make the case that Churchill belongs with Pericles of Athens and Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest statesmen in the history of democracy.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Churchill

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    5 out of 5 stars

A good biography of a great man.

A number of years ago, before I joined Audible, I listened to a biography of Winston Churchill. I had heard all my life what a great man he was and I decided I wanted to know the details. To my amazement, this biography revealed that Churchill wasn't a great man at all. He was rather stupid and petty and got a lot more credit than he deserved, etc., etc. I was quite confused. I wasn't totally willing to give up my idea of him at a great man, and I wondered why the author of that biography would put in so much time and effort writing a book about a man he despised.

Toward the end of THIS biography, the author mentions that there have been a couple of biographies in recent years that basically set out to make Churchill seem a failure at everything. I liked this book much better.

Yes, Winston Churchill was a flawed personality. Maybe this had something to do with the way he was raised. His mother was promiscuous and his father died of syphilis. Both his parents neglected him terribly as a child. He was sent off to boarding school at the age of seven, and when his father traveled to the city where the school was to give a speech, he didn't bother to visit his son, even though the school was just across the street.

He was also highly intelligent and he was a true hero on many occasions. I really liked this biography. While the author mentioned where he fell short occasionally, he spent more time detailing Churchill's many positive attributes.

I finished this book in only two days, which shows how gripping it was. I didn't want to turn it off for sleep.

27 people found this helpful

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Churchill

What did you like best about this story?

This is more than a lecture. This is a biography of a great man an it is superbly told. It doesn't matter if you know nothing about Churchill or if you've already read a lot about him because Professor J. Rufus Fears does a superb job with his own perspective.

Have you listened to any of Professor J. Rufus Fears’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Professor J. Rufus Fears lecture's are the best of the best. He doesn't deliver them, he performs them; he knows his subject and he is always, always, passionate about it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Thanks to this lecture I found out that Churchill was a very sensitive guy capable of crying like a child, in the middle of the war when he found out that people were forming a long line just to buy food for their birds.

23 people found this helpful

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Wonderful!

Probably the best course I've listened to. I thought I had an above average grasp of Churchill and WWII, but I learned so much from these lectures.

I had no idea of Churchill's early life. He had a full and glorious career before WWII that I was unaware of. I'm so glad I listened to these lectures and have already recommended them to friends and family. Wonderful stuff. Highly recommended.

14 people found this helpful

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A great review of Churchill's life

Professor Fears is an excellent speaker and held my interest to the end. I have over the years watched DVD's from The Great Courses and have never been disappointed. Since I was in elementary school Churchill has fascinated me. I have read/watched/listened to every thing I could get my hands on about or by WSC. Professor Fears managed to provide me with a few pearls of information I was unaware of. Professor Fears reviewed WSC life and his place in history. He covered Churchill's forefather's more in-depth than many other books on Churchill. One of the things I liked best was Dr. Fears reviewed some of the negative books written about Churchill and pointed out the flaws in thinking or agreed that Churchill made a mistake. Like many great men people either hated or loved Churchill. Professor Fears tried to show him as a man, a great statesman, strategic thinker, orator and author. The key items Fears points out about Churchill was he was a Statesman not a Politian and he goes on to define the difference. He also points out Churchill never avoided the difficult jobs he was given, he was honest, studied the situation carefully and acted. He also demonstrates how WSC was a great administrator. Most people know he was a great speaker but he also won the Nobel prize for literature in 1953 for his collection of writing.

13 people found this helpful

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  • JD
  • 07-11-18

A Rufus Fears Pet Project

If you came here because of Rufus Fears, you know what to expect. It will live up to your expectations.

His passion for Mr. Churchill's legacy shines through in his enthusiastic storytelling. If you are familiar with his lecturing style and charismatic delivery, this series will fall right in line.

It does not quite live up the some of his other lectures, such as on Ancient Greeks or Great Books, but this is largely a result of having to stay on the same topic. Fears' sense of humor, ability to connect with the listener and depth of knowledge carry the day.

Fears' is clearly a fan of Churchill, but this does not prevent him from analyzing his failings alongs with his successes. As is often the case with Fears, you will come away with a character study rather than a great deal of hard facts.

Do not expect him to knock it out of the park, but rather, appreciate more time with of one the greatest scholars and lecturers of our time.

You are dearly missed Professor Fears and it was great spending another few hours with you.

9 people found this helpful

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Worth a listen

What aspect of Professor J. Rufus Fears’s performance would you have changed?

The delivery is very conversational as a lecture series would be, but there were some points in the audio where his inflection and volume spiked and was painful to listen to. Aside from that, it was very good.

Any additional comments?

The subject matter was very interesting.

9 people found this helpful

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Good, not great

Professor Fears comes across as too gushing. He does point out others criticisms and then dismisses them. There’s no doubt Churchill is a great man and genius. I just wish the lectures were relayed more objectively.

4 people found this helpful

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Courage and optimism in the face catastrophe

Wonderful lecture of a very interesting man.
I was amazed that he wrote so much and that he painted and did many wonderful things.
Some people are critical of Winston Churchill, I found him inspirering and brave.
I like Rufus Fears he is very enthusiastic about this subject. I. Plan on listening to Winston Churchills book, “My early life”
“The Second World War” “The darkest hour” and “Clementine”
I will then have a more thourgh knowledge of Churchill.
The narration is wonderful.

3 people found this helpful

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Saint Churchill

The professor gives the impression that everything Churchill did was wonderful. He ignores his flaws, or minimises them, and grants him glories Churchill wouldn't approve of.
I, of course, don't deny Churchill was a great man, and a very important part of History.
However, I completely disagree with the statement that history is made by individuals. They are important, but not crucial. Individuals are just easier for the human mind to comprehend than the complex maelstrom that history is.

Some facts in this lecture are a bit one sided (Israel as a beacon of freedom? Please watch the news professor. The truth is complex and bloody), or just plain wrong (Hitler never was a corporal in the German army, he was a soldier first class. Granted, that's a mistake even Churchill made).

3 people found this helpful

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Lecture from a dedicated fan of Churchill

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

Eventhough I do not have much knowledge about the life of Winston Churchill (hence the reason I got this audiobook), it came to me that the lecturer was portraying Churchill with the brightest of colours. The lecture was not from a person that wanted to give a spherical view of Churchill but rather from a fan that wanted to show off his favourite hero. The best example is the mere reference to the Black and Tans and their presence in Ireland by the lecturer as nothing special and of note to the life of Churchill. The Black and Tans were created by Churchill and had commited atrocities in Ireland but they are not mentioned at all by the lecturer. Again, I am not knowledgable about the life of Churchill but the exclusion of the above makes me question the validity and the objectivity of the lecturer.

Has Churchill turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. I have purchased other "The Great Courses" audiobooks and I enjoyed them and audiobooks based on history is something I enjoy (as long as they are as objective as possible).

How could the performance have been better?

If the lecturer was more objective with a more spherical view of the life of Winston Churchill, with both, the good and the bad aspects of his life, then this would be a worthwhile audiobook.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment because I would expect a more objective lecture from a professor of such high level.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 02-22-18

This isn’t history, it is hagiography

I am an enormous admirer of Churchill, and have read most of great man’s works. Churchill was brilliant, honorable and courageous, but he had his flaws. These lectures ignore or try to reinterpret these negative aspects of Churchill, turning him into a cartoon rather than portraying the very real, remarkable person he was. Look for Roy Jenkins’ superb biography him instead. It is also on Audible. It will give you a much more realistic view of the man - as will any of Churchill’s own works.

By the way... lecture 1, Queen Anne was Queen Mary’s younger sister, not her daughter, something the lecturer would know if he’d read Churchill’s magnificent History of the English Speaking Peoples (also to be found on Audible).

6 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 05-28-18

Ery good listen

Clear and precise, gives a thorough picture of a great man, who stood firm in guarding freedom.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 09-14-22

Brilliant, but sometimes lacks nuance

This was a brilliant history of Churchill, but at times it did come across a little polemical and lacked a little nuance. Almost everything Professor Fears had to say was positive, even when Churchill himself would have been more self-critical.

The Dardanelles particularly stood out for me as an episode which Professor Fears really only skirts round Churchill’s mistakes.

Also notable is the almost total lack of a mention of Churchill dealings with India and Gandhi, something that might be excusable given how short the work is were it not for the fact that Professor Fears spends a whole chapter on Lord Marlborough. I think the fate of over 1 billion people is worth a bit more time than it was given.

Overall though Professor Fears’ style is very entertaining and I learned a lot.

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  • Alison
  • 11-16-17

inspiring

well researched and presented and inspiring. learned much about Churchill that is not commonly known. recommended!!

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  • Katy Alexander
  • 10-28-16

disappointing

Unfortunately I found the professor's performance hard to listen to. There is no rhythm to his speech, there are odd pauses, then rushed, stilted sentences, and I found his voice itself quite grating. I've discontinued listening after chapter 2. Very disappointing for such an interesting subject matter.

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