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Red velvet and cigars--Churchill's personal style in a unique bio
on April 29, 2012
This is an unusual biography and I truly enjoyed it--Winston Churchill, that towering figure from World War II is described in terms of his clothing, his furniture, cigars, personal objects and tastes. I don't think I can recall another such book and I liked it so much, I hope the author will write some more of these book about iconic figures of our recent history.
I am old enough to remember Churchill--he died when I was thirteen, so he was an important figure even for me--and more so for my parents who lived through World War II. It's hard to describe how people felt about him if you are younger but he was, even for Americans, almost presidential and beloved as a strong figure who was a lighthouse of hope and courage in a desperately bleak time.
The layout of this book is absolutely beautiful: nicely formatted text with excellent photos of Churchill at various times in public, and at home, photos of his home Chartwell, casual scenes (painting at an easel), photos with Roosevelt, and pictures of personal effects such as cigar bands, a custom lap desk and oddly enough, a red velvet jumpsuit he liked to wear as a sort of lounging suit. I've never seen any of these pictures before and they are fascinating and throw an entirely different light on Churchill's mannerisms and habits.
The book contains a brief outline of Churchill's life and some interesting anecdotes, among which, his comment that if his father had been American rather than his mother, he might, he said as he addressed the US Congress, have got there on his own. His relationship with Roosevelt, who was sometimes obstructive if not outright duplicitous in his dealings with the British, are briefly but poignantly outlined.
This is a terrific book that would be of interest to anyone who loves history, or a Anglophile, or anyone interested in Churchill and WWII. I found it not only interesting and full of stories I did not know, but it is just beautiful to look at and read. Highly recommended.