• Churchill's Shadow

  • The Life and Afterlife of Winston Churchill
  • By: Geoffrey Wheatcroft
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 23 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (50 ratings)

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Churchill's Shadow  By  cover art

Churchill's Shadow

By: Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
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Publisher's summary

Winston Churchill is generally considered one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, revered for his opposition to appeasement, his defiance in the face of German bombing of England, his political prowess, and his memorable speeches. He became the savior of his country, as prime minister during the most perilous period in British history, World War II, and is now perhaps even more beloved in America than in England.

And yet Churchill was also very often in the wrong: He brazenly contradicted his own previous political stances, was a disastrous military strategist, and inspired dislike and distrust through much of his life. Before 1939 he doubted the efficacy of tank and submarine warfare, opposed the bombing of cities only to reverse his position, shamelessly exploited the researchers and ghostwriters who wrote much of the journalism and the books published under his name, and had an inordinate fondness for alcohol that once found him drinking whiskey before breakfast. When he was appointed to the cabinet for the first time in 1908, a perceptive journalist called him "the most interesting problem of personal speculation in English politics".

This revelatory book takes on Churchill in his entirety, separating the man from the myth that he so carefully cultivated, and scrutinizing his legacy on both sides of the Atlantic.

©2021 Geoffrey Wheatcroft (P)2021 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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A few facts and a quote in context, would be nice.

I have read number of books recounting many aspects of Churchill's life in politics and war. This one is absurd, with so few substantiating facts, continuous innuendo and endless out of context quotes, none of which he even attempts to verify the context. Some quote are as much as 300 years before the man's time. Faulting Churchill in the 30's for his failure to perfectly predict every European event leading to the Second World War stretched credulity, particularly with him getting so much of it right when no one else did. The book is nothing more than an envious socialist's ramblings and determination to sully Churchill's image in every way possible. I could not finish it.

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Respectful but not reverential

It is sometimes tricky to sparse historical figures from their legend. In the modern psyche, Churchill is as much if not more myth as he is a historical figure. In contrast to more reverential biographies, this book depicts Churchill as a man with biases, courage, failures, and some successes. Since we’re so primed to expect glowing accounts of the legend, this book, despite the author’s evident respect for the man, can come across as an indictment. It is not so much an indictment as it is a fair accounting of the titular man.

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Meh, with a few gold nuggets

Not a pleasant read for Churchill fans but tolerable for those that want a nuanced contrarian view to balance their outlook. The three biggest indictments are Churchill was racist but that indictment applies to most Western Leaders regardless of political leanings. The author attempts to levy the charge by standards of Churchill's own time but makes no compelling argument to that end. The second indictment that his political positions and party changed as his perceived political opportunities did. Really? Political elites sometimes adapt their positions to political tides, blunder, and maneuver to make money and avoid taxes. Say it isn't so . Nevertheless, there is some value in pointing out that History's Giants are human and flawed and not the mythical figures we tend to make them. But again no compelling argument that anyone else in Churchills position would inevitably have done better is offered. Finally, the one indictment that does have considerable merit is the misapplication of Churchill's legacy --his shadow--by subsequent political elites especially the abuse and misuse of the Munich (appeasement) analogy. The author analyzes many in the subsequent decades and makes a compelling point that Churchills shadow in these cases backfired with disastrous consequences. Wheatcroft rightly suggests Churchill himself might cringe at how his legacy has been appropriated.

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Cynical and negatively biased perspectives

Far from a balanced view. Cynical and negatively biased perspectives on politicians, Americans, Churchill’s legacy and the Great man himself. Inflammatory viewpoints on events and leaders portrayed as facts. Condescending attitudes throughout, that at times made it difficult to push through to the end.

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A well balanced telling of the impact of Churchill

Basically this book pulls no punches while describing the actual actions of Winston Churchill, the good and the ugly. It shows how the myth of Churchill has been used by both the English and the Americans to promote their own political agendas all the way through the Trump attempt to prevent President Biden from being seated as the legally elected President in January of 2021.

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A solid, yet, wonderfully written book.

Wheatcroft wrote, what I hoped, most biographers would write about anyone. Winston Churchill is two individuals in one person. There is Churchill the fictional character and Churchill the person; this biography was about the latter with a denunciation of the former.

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