Customer Reviews


11 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of politician who earned his living by writing
For much of his life, Sir Winston Churchill, was a well known politician but his real profession, the way he supported himself, was that of a writer. This book is a fascinating study of his literary output, how he worked, how he made use of researchers and how he made a living from writing. Often, the demands of his political life interfered with his writing. Equally...
Published on June 21, 2012 by Paul Lantz

versus
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Writing the Books; Cutting the Deals: Paying the Bills
Peter Clarke is a fine scholar and this is a good work, and with that said, it is not a casual read or designed for someone not already somewhat familiar with Churchill.

Of all the many books already written on every aspect of this man, any potential reader would ask why another? There are several good reasons, several very strong points of the book, and yet,...
Published on July 24, 2012 by Paul


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of politician who earned his living by writing, June 21, 2012
By 
Paul Lantz (Moosonee, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For much of his life, Sir Winston Churchill, was a well known politician but his real profession, the way he supported himself, was that of a writer. This book is a fascinating study of his literary output, how he worked, how he made use of researchers and how he made a living from writing. Often, the demands of his political life interfered with his writing. Equally often, there was a tremendous neat for him to come up with innovative financial strategies to insure that he received a benefit from writing, especially at a time when income tax in Britain reached 97.5 per cent. I have read quite a few books about Churchill, this is one of the best in terms of readability and fascinating levels of detail. Clearly Churchill used researchers and writers but when he became interested in a subject he was capable of immersing himself in it and producing excellent prose.
I bought this volume as an ebook from amazon.com and read it in the Kindle app on my iPad.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Writing the Books; Cutting the Deals: Paying the Bills, July 24, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
Peter Clarke is a fine scholar and this is a good work, and with that said, it is not a casual read or designed for someone not already somewhat familiar with Churchill.

Of all the many books already written on every aspect of this man, any potential reader would ask why another? There are several good reasons, several very strong points of the book, and yet, for me, a flawed premise.

The author begins with one of the finest summaries of WSC growing up the son of Lord Randolph Churchill and his American wife, Jenny Jerome. Lord Randoloph was a brilliant politician in most respects, and became Chancellor of the Exchequer under Salisbury but it was short lived in that he submitted his resignation prior to submitting even his first budget and Salisbury took it and went on. WSC was neglected by both parents and yet idolized both. His father, quite simply, was an ass. Randolph died at an early age and what little there was in pensions or annuities was constantly devoured by his mother as quickly as it came due, so while WSC may have been of the upper crust, he, like many, were not endowed with cash, which may have been on his father's mind when he married Jenny Jerome, a daughter of a successful investment broker from New York.

Early on, in spite of the lack of a formal education (his father had no intention of spending the money required for a first rate education), WSC went to Sandhurst, was a calvary officer at a young age and devoured books while on duty in India. It was early in life that he started with magazine and newspaper articles and learned quickly that good writing would make good money.

One of the most important events in his early writing career was when he was captured in November 1899 by a Boer guerilla force and imprisoned for two months before he escaped and made a most interesting journey of good luck and daring back to British allies at Mozambique. This action and the subsequent story of his exploits made him renowned with the public and publishers. From there a long progression of politics and publishing helped him sustain an expensive lifestyle that was hardly augmented by his parents, who were hedonists and spent it faster than it came in.I was surprised that the author moved through this quickly and kept at the "Book That Defined the Special Relationship". There is a great deal of information about the genesis of this book and the final publication long years after the initial idea, but most students of Churchill will tell you that A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (The Birth of Britain / The New World / The Age of Revolution / The Great Democracies)is not his greatest work and somewhat his history of the things he wants to cover (which is very much like WSC). Much of the research was done by others, which WSC sorted through to tell his story, and indeed, it is a good story, but not anything like a comprehensive work. In fact, if there was a special relationship with America it was brought about because England was trying to survive a another world war, and the relationship was a trying one indeed. The British felt the Americans too steely in their demands for the rust bucket destroyers of Lend Lease and later in the war, there were great variances in military strategy, and finally, WSC in the later part of the war had to realize that the US and USSR were calling the shots, but all of this is not covered in the book and probably should have had an honorable mention if nothing else. But in returning to the book, it was not mentioned by the committee as the reason for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 as I always thought, but considering his world fame, accomplished leadership during the war, and his massive list of publications long prior to this event, the award may reflect more on the man than on the work. The chicken, in effect, arrived long before the egg, much to the chagrin of Ernest Hemingway who was also a contender for the prize that year.

Regardless of this criticism there is a wealth of information here. The author shows how WSC was constantly leveraged, trying to keep up Chartwell, which appears to have been a money pit (that Clementine detested) pay for his wine and spirits expenses (he and guests could go through cases of expensive champagne during and after dinner),
cover his taxes, and try to come up with the next book deal that would bring a fat advance and/or royalties. He indeed was a word factory and Clarke shows how it was not only writing but production of words on a daily basis.

I would recommend the book and the insights it provides.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just when I thought I knew something about Churchill, June 1, 2012
By 
David Rasch (Burnsville, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
Been reading about him since 1964. Watched his funeral on t.v. It just never clicked that his literary output not only kept him financially afloat but was some of the best writing this century. Peter Clarke assembles the information which can be found in bits and pieces in the numerous biographies of Sir Winston into a cogent, readable and interesting book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great statesman, great writer, January 3, 2013
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
Presented here is a side of Winston Churchill that not many readers are aware of - that of a politician and member of a certain strata of English society supporting himself as an author.
The story begins with a fair summation of Churchill's childhood, which was not all that rosy. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a politician who married a New York heiress, Jennie Jerome, both of whom promptly neglected their son, who in turn idolized them both. His father died young and his mother, never good with money, continuously went through anything that remained. She did, however, have many contacts in society (as any beautiful widow would), and she provided her son with introductions and acted as his literary agent many times in getting his was dispatches published in the newspapers. These dispatches were written out into books, very popular ones at that, and by 1900, Churchill had practically written himself into elected office. With a royalty income of over $500,000 in today's money, he could afford to stay in office but went through money pretty much as quickly as his mother did. He continued to write, albeit now with a staff to research and dictate to, ultimately winning the Nobel Prize in 1953 for his four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
This is an entertaining and informative "take" on one of the twentieth century's foremost citizens.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming at Churchill from a Different Angle, December 18, 2012
By 
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
Peter Clarke's new Winston Churchill biography, Mr. Churchill's Profession, focuses on a less often explored side of the man who will always be best remembered for his defiance of Adolph Hitler during World War II. This is a book, as the subtitle clearly states, about "the statesman as author." Not having much considered this aspect of the great political figure's life before, I was pleased by how revealing a portrait of the man such a focus makes possible.

Winston Churchill became a published author in 1898 and, for the rest of his life, the bulk of his income would be provided by his writing - not by the political offices to which he was elected. Even as a young army officer, Churchill considered himself as much writer as soldier, and used family influence to attach himself to several military campaigns as a war correspondent. The money he earned from newspapers and from repackaging the articles into books allowed Churchill and his widowed mother to maintain a lifestyle that would otherwise have been impossible after his father's death.

Churchill's parents enjoyed a lifestyle that always seemed just barely - if never completely - within their means of paying for it. Randolph Churchill placed his own personal pleasure above any obligation another father might feel for educating his sons for the future. So, in lieu of spending money on a better education, Randolph steered his son toward a military career and left it up to Winston to educate himself as best he could. Unfortunately, although Winston did do a remarkable job of educating himself, he also inherited the spendthrift ways of his parents.

Randolph Churchill died still a young man and, after Winston's mother largely ran through the remainder of the family fortune, he relied upon his writing income to support them until his mother remarried. But an income tax loophole and his need to publish as often as possible combined to put Churchill on a writing-treadmill that he would spend his lifetime trying to dismount. The tax code allowed taxes on book advances (which were extraordinarily large in many cases) to be deferred for three years, with one-third of the resulting tax obligation payable in each of the three years following receipt of the cash.

Churchill, barely making ends meet as it was, depended on advances for future books to pay the taxes on those already written. This trap would keep him writing at full speed for the rest of his life in order to keep himself one year ahead of the tax man. The speed at which he had to write frustrated Churchill's publishers, impacted the quality of his work, and changed his writing habits.

The "book that defined the `special relationship" between Britain and the United States is, of course, Churchill's A History of the English Speaking Peoples. Churchill originally contracted for the book in 1932, but the rise of Hitler, Churchill's duties as Prime Minister during World War II, and financial pressure to write other books first, meant that the four volumes would not be finished until the 1950s. The special relationship defined and explored in A History, although weaker now than at anytime in the last several decades, has lasted through a long succession of prime ministers and presidents.

Mr. Churchill's Profession has succeeded in showing a side of Winston Churchill not usually explored in a Churchill biography. It is a worthy edition to the Churchill story and a book that amateur historians will want to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A writer who spent even faster than he wrote, November 14, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The son of a USAAF bomber pilot and an Irish lass who spent the early 40s dodging German bombs and V-rockets, not always without injury, I heard conflicting opinions about Churchill in my parents' home. But one year my Christmas and birthday gifts included the TIME LIFE abridged version of THe Second World War and Vol 3 of the History of the English Speaking Peoples (1688-1815). I was hooked on Churchill the historian. I later added to my reading and library shelves his autobiographical The River War, the rest of his HESP, and (my favorite), the Marlborough biography. How did he write these classic histories and scores more? Peter Clarke's "Mr Churchill's Profession" tells the whole story, but focuses on the great man's struggle and triumph in writing "The History of the English Speaking Peoples." I say "writing" loosely, because much of his product in the last years, including both HESP and 2WW were unavoidably the work of committees who could mimic Churchill's writing style. I say unavoidably because Sir Winston needed to push out product to keep hold of his expensively beloved Chartwell estate and his luxurious lifestyle. Clarke explains how Churchill's agents and lawyers kept him financially afloat by securing the most lucrative book deals of the age, how Churchill often used advances to extend his liabilities instead of paying them off. But what also becomes clear is that Churchill was a dynamo, and an extraordinary amount of historical literature of the highest quality came from his own pen, even as he was engaged in politics (usually in opposition). Anyone interested in Churchill, his literary works, and the state of publishing during WSC's life should find this book utterly fascinating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Statesmanship isn't free, May 25, 2013
By 
M. A Newman (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
This is an interesting book that evaluates Churchill's career as a writer and a historian. It probably will be no surprise that Churchill was pleased in his early 20s to discover that people would pay him to write and eventually to write almost anything (summaries of classic novels for the News of the World, for example was not his finest hour). This set the pattern of his life, he would maintain a highly expensive life style courtesy of his writing efforts. Peter Clarke, himself a historian and (important in this case) an expert in economic matters brings considerable expertise to this work. I think that it has some shortcomings, but is nonetheless interesting.

The book's greatest strength is the effort that Clarke puts into understanding Churchill's finances. It probably would not be an understatement to say that Clarke probably pays more attention to Churchill's bank balance than Churchill or his mother or his children ever did. This is an important consideration since Churchill was not aiming to change the world with his writing as to keep himself in brandy, cigars, painting supplies and groceries from Fortnum and Mason's. Clarke is really good in calculating relative value in previous times and I think I may continue to consult him when trying to make sense historical economic issues of the period. I would concur with Clarke that perhaps the two best books are Great Contemporaries and My Early Life (a book I enjoyed when I read it as a teenager). Both are really the most accessible and interesting things he ever wrote and they stand up remarkably well.

That said, I would take issue with some of the characterizations in this book. First of all Churchill's biography of his illustrious ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough, follows in a certain tradition that was commonplace many years ago, during the 19th century. I do agree that the book's tendency to quote at extreme length some of the supporting documents cited (and that the more popular abridged version is more readable). Clarke really just does not understand that this rather slow paced style of narrative was very much the case in 1880s and 1890s and this convention would have influenced some of the choices that Churchill made when compiling the information.

There is also the matter of what Churchill got out of writing the biography of Marlborough. I think Churchill absorbed certain key lessons about waging the kind of coalition warfare that he would undertake during the Second World War. In a sense I think this effort provided Churchill a series of vital lessons taught by Churchill the writer. Clarke ignores all of this.

And while on the subject of the Second World War, Clarke completely skirts the issue of Churchill's war memoirs and refers the reader to another work. This is somewhat disappointing. This was the book that lead Churchill to enjoy a measure of economic security that eluded him in previous efforts. I think that in light of the attention shown to the History of the English Speaking People, that this magnum opus might have warranted more attention.

In short, this is a good work, which is worth reading, but it lacks a comprehensive command of the subject material.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scribble, scribble, scribble . . ., December 19, 2012
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
Most of us know of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) as the wartime leader of Britain during World War II. But his 90-year life was devoted to more than politics, for he was an active journalist and author well into the 1950s, writing some 40 books. Largely the story of Churchill's four-volume HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES (published in the mid-1950s), this readable book explores how he undertook all that work in an era when a typewriter was cutting-edge technology. For one thing he dictated to armies of secretaries, helping to explain the aural quality of his writing. For another, he used another small army of historical advisers to help nail down aspects of English and then British history up to the turn of the 20th century. Nearly ready for publication in 1939, the war and his political role pushed the books to a back burner for a generation. Then the manuscript called for some reworking to include research by others in the quarter century since the original writing. Very much in the "great man" tradition of popular British history, the resulting books sold--and still sell--well. They may not represent much about economic or social/cultural history, but for their insights into war and politics, they are hard to beat. This volume tells how they came to be.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Churchill Full Focus, April 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
This biography is one which shows how talented Churchill was. His writing and his mastery of the English language is one of his gifts to the world. I have read other biographies of Churchill, altho not the six volume one by Martin Gilbert. This one by Peter Clarke is most fulfilling. I recommend it highly
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Surviving overindulgence, January 19, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Churchill's Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the "Special Relationship" (Hardcover)
Mr. Churchill's book gives a fascinating account of one man's lengthy struggle to live beyond his means. Amazingly, with a little help from the Second World War, Churchill was able to shore up his finances in his seventies and live gracefully to the end, but only with a great deal of weaving and some outright misrepresentation in dealing with his publishers. Unfortunately, the author has padded the book with a couple of lengthy digressions, but it still repays the attentive reader.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.