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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

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Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • BKATX
  • DFW, TX, United States
  • 12-14-16

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 09-05-13

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.

10 of 12 people found this review 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.

6 of 7 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fears=pie in the sky views and over dramatic reads

R.Fears heaps lofty praise upon all of his subjects, with little criticism, even when deserved.

His overly dramatic presentations with long pauses and fluctuations in tone and pitch meant to emphasize points instead just leav me wanting to get through the audio as fast as possible, but also make his sped-up voice (in the app) intolerable, so there's me escape, really.

1 of 1 people found this review 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).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great content makes up for mispronunciations, etc.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Professor Rufus Fears delivers a well researched biography of Churchill, filled with anecdotes that allow the listener to glimpse that man in full, not just as a politician, but as a son, husband, father, friend, artist, and writer.

What didn’t you like about Professor J. Rufus Fears’s performance?

Rufus Fear pronounced cavalry as calvary, which was distracting. He also failed to pronounce Marquess correctly (he pronounced it as marquis) and spoke with a high pitched squeaky twang when he wished to emphasize a point.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

of course

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great life, but not my cup of tea

Churchill's is certainly a life worth studying, and this course does a pretty good job of presenting it and explaining some of the interesting history of his times. But I didn't get the feeling that the lecturer was either a great scholar or a great lecturer, and his field of scholarly study seems to be ancient Greece and Rome, not 20th century Europe. At times, his unabashed adulation seemed like a tween girl's fan letter to a boy band. But I believe the lecturer means well, and he did teach me much about Churchill's life and times in a reasonable amount of time. For that, I am indebted to him.

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review 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).

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.