From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this enthusiastic yet first-rate biography, veteran British historian Johnson (Modern Times
) asserts that Winston Churchill (1874–1965) was the 20th century's most valuable figure: No man did more to preserve freedom and democracy.... An ambitious, world-traveling soldier and bestselling author, Churchill was already famous on entering Parliament in 1899 and within a decade was working with Lloyd George to pass the great reforms of 1908–1911. As First Lord of the Admiralty, he performed brilliantly in preparing the navy for WWI, but blame—undeserved according to Johnson—for the catastrophic 1915 Dardanelles invasion drove him from office. Within two years, he was back at the top, where he remained until the Depression. Johnson delivers an adulatory account of Churchill's prescient denunciations of Hitler and heroics during the early days of WWII, and views later missteps less critically than other historians. He concludes that Churchill was a thoroughly likable great man with many irritating flaws but no nasty ones: he lacked malice, avoided grudges, vendettas and blame shifting, and quickly replaced enmity with friendship. Biographers in love with their subjects usually produce mediocre history, but Johnson, always self-assured as well as scholarly, has written another highly opinionated, entertaining work. B&w photos. (Nov.)
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"It turns out that while Wikipedia can ably trace the arc of Churchill's life, Johnson...can give the reader the definite sense of having known Churchill, or at least of having hung out with him for a bit...Churchill
lets you spend some time in the man's company, and who wouldn't want that?"
-New York Times Book Review
"Paul Johnson is the most celebrated and best-loved British historian in America."
-Wall Street Journal
"[If] you appreciate clarity, authority, and verve in historical writing, you will understand why I gulped down [Churchill
] and now declare it the most exciting biography I read in 2009."
-Jesse Kornbluth, Huffington Post
"Johnson clearly shares and revels in Churchill's generosity of spirit and limitless intellectual energy. He has produced a book that is a joy--and a worthy tribute to both of them."
"You read Johnson to be provoked and entertained, and on both these scores his biography, like its subject, succeeds wonderfully."
-The American COnservative
"With deft narrative skill and keen insight, Johnson masterfully sketches the phases of Churchill's life...Along the way, Johnson gives us wonderful insights into Churchill's character...Rich with anecdote and quotation, Paul Johnson's Churchill
illustrates the man's humor, resilience, courage, and eccentricity as no other biography before."
Johnson's story arc is written in fluid prose that beautifully reveals the tension of achievement of Churchill's life."
-Dallas Morning News
"The book's most original offering is--in characteristically vivid prose and a consistent intelligence and urbanity--Johnson's distillation of life lessons from Churchill's storied career."
-Jon Meacham, Slate.com