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Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table Hardcover – January 9, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


“A delightful and fascinating book in which we are reminded that an evening dining with Churchill must have been one of the most memorable and enjoyable occasions one could have hoped for.” (Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War)

“A delightful and delicious tribute to Churchill’s heroic appetite for wining, dining and politicking.” (Ben Macintyre, author of Operation Mincemeat)

“A feast for foodies and history buffs alike, Dinner With Churchill offers a delicious and easily digestible portrait of the culinary tactics that helped its subject win the cooperation of others and, in so doing, the global conflict that threatened to destroy everything he held dear.” (Jay Stafford - The Richmond TImes Dispatch)

“The Churchill industry has been so productive in the decades since his death, and such libraries of books have been published, that an original take on his exceptionally well-documented life might seem impossible. However, with this readable "gastrobiography," Stelzer has succeeded brilliantly in producing one.” (The Sunday Times)

“Acutely revealing.” (Times Literary Supplement)

“What a wonderful repast Cita Stelzer has served us. History as it was consumed: Roosevelt sipping, Churchill quaffing – the best (and not so good) cuts and the great vintages are all on the table. Another bottle, please!” (William Shawcross, author of Justice and the Enemy)

About the Author

A freelance journalist and a Research Associate at the Hudson Institute, Cita Stelzer previously worked for John Lindsay, Mayor of New York, and Governor Hugh Carey. She is currently a researcher at Churchill College, Cambridge, and a member of the Board of the Churchill Centre and Trustee of Wigmore Hall.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (January 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605984019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605984018
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Why I wrote Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table
By Cita Stelzer

In the course of many years spent reading biographies of and books about Winston Churchill I realized that I had learned little about how this man planned the meals at which he had accomplished so much. After all, most of the deals that were struck at the famous international conferences held during WWII were made at or facilitated by dinners at which the leaders were more relaxed than at formal sessions.
So I began digging into the Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge. Not only did I find menus for the more famous dinners with Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, and Stalin. But there were details of Churchill careful setting of the stages for dinners with his generals, political friends and foes, leading academics and a host of other interesting people. In addition, I found bills for dinners at Claridges, the Ritz and The Savoy, with guests lists, amended wine selections, letters from Churchill and his staff complaining about over-billing, letters from Churchill thanking friends for the gifts of foods and wines, all in the Archives as set out in my book.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Cita Stelzer's wonderful book sheds lots of fascinating new light on the way that Winston Churchill used the dining table to advance his military and diplomatic strategy. In 25 years of writing about Churchill, I come across new interpretations and points of view relatively rarely, but Mrs Stelzer's work definitely counts as both. She also has an elegant written style, which is so important in short, good-natured, beautifully-illustrated and thought-provoking books of this nature. Bravo!
Dr Andrew Roberts, author of 'The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War'
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Politicians, especially leaders like Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, often seem to live at an Olympian-level, far above day-to-day concerns as they direct great matters of state. But the art of diplomacy on the biggest of issues often depends to a surprising degree on small gestures and quiet, personal connections. Cita Stelzer opens the door to a little-explored aspect of how Churchill used the simple act of dining to achieve political aims. Working to bring the U.S. into the war against Germany, forging an Allied strategy towards the invasion of Europe, and confronting the Soviet Union's post-War ambitions includes, it turns out, careful attention to both maps and menus; to military movements and seating charts. Ms. Stelzer demonstrates that Churchill used all the tools in his arsenal (and all the dinner selections at his disposal) to forge policy and to advance his art of persuasion. We know that Churchill was a great statesman; this portrait demonstrates, as well, that he was a man with whom it would have been delightful to share a meal.
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Format: Hardcover
Enroute through Scotland to Newfoundland for his August, 1941 meeting with Roosevelt, Churchill ordered a grouse hunt outside Perth for the Presidential dinner that would come later aboard HMS Prince of Wales. Is that interesting? Yes it is, along with a hundred other details showing Churchill's extreme care in planning and carrying out dinner parties as instruments of statesmanship.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked four months later, the US public was in a rage against Japan. Contrary to the American mood, Churchill wanted a "Germany first" policy. So he got himself invited to the White House and stayed for three weeks. The President and the Prime Minister dined most nights, with brandy, tobacco, and talk until 2 or 3 am. The policy that emerged was "Germany first."

Author Cita Stelzer whirls us though the great conferences, Casablanca, Adana, Teheran, Yalta, Potsdam, describing the structures, the décor, the place settings, the hors d'oeuvres, entrees, and desserts, the spirits, the wines, and the music, illustrating with photos and reproduced menus. She has found a little-examined corner of the copious historical record, and researched it diligently.

All this is fairly interesting, sort of like a museum tour, but has the nourishment content of a soufflé rather than a roast. There are repeated quotes about Churchill's wit, charm, and persuasiveness, but scarcely a word out of his mouth. We are given the stage settings, but none of the performance.

This is a "fill out the details" book. Seasoned Churchillians will be fascinated; novices will be lost.

Stelzer devotes a chapter to the much-discussed issue of Churchill's drinking.
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Format: Hardcover
The importance of personal contacts is the lesson of a sparkling new book by Hudson Institute scholar Cita Stelzer on former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

It also holds lessons for us today. At the end of 2012, America was saved from going off the fiscal cliff by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden, who had spent decades together in the Senate--on opposite sides of the aisle. They negotiated a last-minute tax bill on December 30 and 31.

Stelzer tells the story of what former Prime Minister Winston Churchill accomplished through personal interaction over meals all over the world.

Complete with descriptions of menus, guests, Champagne, wine, whiskey (Churchill was not an alcoholic, Stelzer tells us), and cigars, the book is a window into a vital historical period where Britain and America triumphed over Germany and together won World War II.

Using examples from the 1900s to the 1950s, Stelzer explains that Churchill made it his business to get to know friends and opponents alike by inviting them to dinner.

She writes, "No matter the circumstances--whether in the dining room at Chartwell or on a picnic chair in the desert--Churchill's profound belief in the importance of face-to-face meetings, and his unshakeable confidence in his ability to get his own way in such intimate encounters, never wavered."

For example, at dinners in 1941 aboard American and British ships in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, Churchill persuaded President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that Britain would not collapse as had France, and convinced him to gear up war production, which kept Britain afloat until America entered the war in December 1941.

Not all dinners showed such success, as Stelzer admits.
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