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


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (January 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605984019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605984018
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,650 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

The book is easy to read and is very enjoyable.
Jean
I didn't finish the book and regret having wasted my hard-earned on it.
Kees Bylsma
This book provided a lot of new information and is well written.
History__buff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Roberts on November 21, 2012
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jon Sallet on November 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Harold on January 9, 2013
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Kinchen on January 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
No book about Winston Churchill and his policy making summits around the dinner table would be complete without the possibly true but never confirmed quotation from the woman who called out the Prime Minister on his drinking and his retort and Cita Stelzer has included it in her delightful "Dinner With Churchill: Policy-Making at The Dinner Table" .

On page 191 the author presents us with Bessie Braddock's accusation: "Winston, you are drunk," to which Churchill is alleged to have responded: "Bessie, you are ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober."

Actually Churchill watered down his Johnnie Walker Black Label, Stelzer writes -- noting that some sources say Red Label -- so much that some fellow imbibers say it had the kick of mouthwash. Churchill was born in 1874 and lived until 1965. He was 90 when he died, so the reports of his food and alcohol consumption must have been -- like the reports of Mark Twain's death -- somewhat exaggerated.

Stelzer paints a picture of Sir Winston S. Churchill that I'm sure the amateur painter in him would have admired, with the added advantage of showing admirers of Churchill a side that has not been detailed before. With fascinating new insights into the food he ate, the champagne he loved -- Pol Roger -- and the important guests he charmed, this delectable volume is a sumptuous and intellectual treat.

A friend once said of Churchill "He is a man of simple tastes; he is quite easily satisfied with the best of everything." After all, he was born in Blemheim Palace to an English father, Lord Randolph Churchill, and an American mother, the beautiful Jennie Jerome of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

But dinners for Churchill were about more than good food, excellent champagnes and Havana cigars.
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