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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In many ways, Winston Churchill embodied the "special relationship" between America and Britain—his mother was American, and he admired the country even before he courted the United States' assistance during WWII. In this thoroughly researched, consistently enjoyable study, Gilbert—the statesman's official biographer—covers the subject with his usual diligence and rigor, from the American roots of Churchill's mother to his first visit to the U.S. in 1895 and on to the end of his life. Historically, the most important connections were between Churchill and the two WWII presidents, Roosevelt and Truman, and the book is filled with detail on the war years, especially his indefatigable efforts to get America involved in the war. He tells his son, "I shall drag the United States in." But it's just as interesting to discover how Churchill embraced America so early in his life, not of necessity but out of temperament. In a letter home during his very first visit, he notes American vulgarity, but adds, "I think... that vulgarity is a sign of strength." This is a fascinating story, straightforward and well told, of one of the 20th century's most important leaders and the critical connection he forged between the world's fading superpower and its rising one. Photos and maps not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The indefatigable chronicler of Winston Churchill, official biographer Gilbert tracks Churchill's relationship to the U.S. This volume--at least the seventeenth Gilbert has published about Churchill--informs readers exactly when and where Churchill went on his 16 trips to the U.S., whom he met, and the business he transacted. Americans who met Churchill in Europe are placed into the same compositional framework. However, for public libraries, the work's self-evident precision will be balanced with its popular usefulness. Neither ostentation nor evocation finds a haven in Gilbert's prose, so that while readers will learn of Churchill's courting of America, so to speak, they won't be told about the romanticized notions Churchill had about this country, as he tended to have about history in general. It is sufficient to observe that Churchill's attitudes are abundantly explored elsewhere (for example, historian David Reynolds' forthcoming In Command of History) and to commend Gilbert's present offering to student researchers and dedicated Churchillians. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio; MP3 - Unabridged CD edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400151937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400151936
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,571,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Martin Gilbert is one of the leading historians of his generation. An Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford - of which he was a fellow for thirty years - he is the official biographer of Churchill and the author of eighty books, among them Churchill - A Life and The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust. For more information please visit http://www.martingilbert

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on December 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't think it would be possible for Sir Martin to write other than a superb book about Churchill if he tried. And this latest volume is no exception. The only thing better than reading it is to hear the author, as I did recently at the National Archives, speak about the book and take questions. One of the most remarkable things about Gilbert is that despite the fact he has written so extensively on WC, he still manages to add something new or a novel perspective.

I think if a single theme dominates the book, it is that WC fought a life-long battle against British anti-Americanism. In the mid-1930's, WC began using the expression "English-speaking Peoples," which was another device to build unity between the two countries. I had assumed the book would begin with WWI, but I was very wrong in that regard. Rather, Gilbert begins by looking at WC's parents, and particularly the American connections of his mother, Jenny Jerome. WC makes his first visit to America in 1895. Each visit thereafter (some 17 or so) is discussed, and an important bonus feature is an appendix containing maps of WC's various U.S. travels.

But the book is about far more than visits. It is about the manifold way WC interacted with Americans over nearly 70 years, sometimes to his benefit, other times resulting in frustration. For example, WC always maintained that the U.S. refusal to enter the League of Nations played a major role in the rise of Nazism and the need to fight a second great war. There were also constant negotiations during and after both wars relative to British debt and the means of repayment.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Winston Churchill was a remarkable man and Martin Gilbert, Churchill's official biographer, has spent at least thirty-six years chronicling the great man's life.

Recounting the connection(s) between a British citizen and the United States might make thin gruel for anyone other than Churchill. But it was Churchill's perceptions and obvious love for America that may have saved the world or at least Europe from generations of tyranny.

Churchill's first visit to the United States occurred in 1895. Even at 21, because of his family, Churchill was introduced to the powerful of the day. Five years later Churchill was being handsomely compensated for lecturing across the United States. In an era before broadcast radio and television, Churchill was a celebrity known for his reporting and heroism.

A few years later, Churchill was a member of the British government, working closely with his American counterparts on aspects of strategy against the common WWI enemy.

America, always America. Churchill correctly foresaw and understood the growing power and influence of the United States in the world. He cultivated his relationships with powerful Americans and was a frequent visitor to the US. During the 1930s, Churchill was one of the few who saw the need to confront Hitler, a stance that left him a political outcast until the opportunity for peace had passed by and Churchill became a wartime Prime Minister.

It is during this period that the fullness of Churchill's love for the United States and his belief in its power and capabililities becomes clear. Churchill knew that Britain could not survive without US involvement in the European war.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on October 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Martin Gilbert narrates with panache the ups and downs in the relationship of Winston S. Churchill with the United States, the country of birth of his mother. Gilbert uses Churchill's own words and those of his contemporaries as much as possible. Gilbert weaves these words into his narrative without ever boring his audience. Thanks to this judicious use of quotes, readers get an in-depth account and understanding of the unique place that the United States occupied in the heart of Churchill over much of his seventy adult years.

Churchill's cornerstone foreign policy was to avoid estrangement with the United States, even when its leaders sometimes disappointed him much. Churchill understood early that Britain, an imperial power at its apex, would have to build and maintain a special relationship with the emerging superpower as a key ally in both war and peace. Churchill's many-sided personality never left his audience, hostile or not, indifferent to his message.

Gilbert shows with much conviction how skillful Churchill was at mobilizing the English language and sending it into battle as President John F. Kennedy nicely put it. Successfully, Churchill went to great lengths to drag in the United States into different wars on the side of Britain and its allies when the fate of civilization was at stake.

Churchill's enduring legacy is reflected in the special relationship that Britain and the United States still enjoy with one another. Predictably, Churchill was the only one made an honorary citizen of the United States during his lifetime in recognition of his lifelong links and friendship with America and the Americans.
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