From Publishers Weekly
A 2002 BBC poll established Churchill as history's greatest Briton. Leading British military historian Holmes offers not a biography but an interpretation of the man, one that highlights the ironic fact that the social and political order Churchill defended has virtually disappeared. His Churchill was an unquiet spirit; Holmes describes him as spinning from crisis to crisis for most of his life, gaining experience and wisdom the hard way: helping to commit an unprepared Britain to war in 1914; forging '20s economic policies that left later governments unable to undertake the military buildup Churchill then demanded; failing to maintain Britain's position as a great power after WWII. Both before and after that war, Churchill, Holmes shows, devoted his considerable talent as a historian to misrepresenting the historical record to his advantage. But in 1940 Winston Churchill was able to define his and Britain's century in battle against the Nazis, and, for Holmes, that has been enough to secure his greatness. Holmes has no use for the revisionist argument that Britain was best advised to compromise in the crucial summer of 1940. Instead he demonstrates that Churchill's eloquence, courage and honor left an unforgettable legacy to the British people, and to free men and women everywhere. Holmes similarly demolishes charges that Churchill was a racist and a warmonger. He presents a man truly larger than life. (June)
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As in Paul Addison's Churchill
(2005), this analytic portrayal of Winston Churchill's personality assumes readers are familiar with the basic biography. Tackling Churchill's quip that he knew what history would say about him because he intended to write it, Holmes subjects Churchill's voluminous output to examination as part of his consideration of Churchill's traits and abilities, from his boyish egotism to his enduring eloquence. Holmes attaches the drama of Churchill's life to a framework of the two primary political trends that dominated British affairs during his career: the abandonment of imperial isolation as a foreign policy and the growth of a centralized welfare state. Weighing Churchill's start as a radical liberal and later movement to the right, Holmes turns over the criticisms accumulated by opponents (and later biographers) and adds more about Churchill's two performances as First Lord of the Admiralty. Fluent with Churchillian details, Holmes, despite manifest reservations, shapes them into a saliency that supports the case for Churchill's historical greatness. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved