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Our Supreme Task: How Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech Defined the Cold War Alliance Hardcover – March 6, 2012
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- John Lukacs, author of Churchill: Visionary. Statesman. Historian.
"Philip White has recreated the eight months between the Potsdam Conference at the end of World War II and the world-changing events in Fulton, Missouri, with impressive scholarship, a sure narrative skill and a fine eye for telling detail."
- Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War
"Philip White has lovingly produced a detailed yet eminently readable account of Churchill's speech in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946."
Nile Gardiner, Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
"By reporting this event from every angle, Philip White builds the story of an unemployed world leader giving a talk at an obscure Missouri college into high drama. Churchill would have loved this book."
- Jesse Kornbluth, Headbutler.com
Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War
Winston Churchill thought his Iron Curtain speech the most important of a long and stormy career that was studded with vital speeches; it was certainly one of his bravest. Philip White has recreated the eight months between the Potsdam Conference at the end of World War II and the world-changing events in Fulton, Missouri, with impressive scholarship, a sure narrative skill and a fine eye for telling detail.”
John Lukacs, author of A New Republic: A History Of The United States In The Twentieth Century
I read Our Supreme Task with considerable care and I recommend it emphatically. There is now an enormous literature about the Cold War but very little about how it actually came about and almost nothing about this address. This book fills the gap.”
Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
Philip White has lovingly produced a detailed yet eminently readable account of Churchill’s speech in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. White shows not only how the great British statesman crystallized in word and image the perilous divide between democratic west and communist east, but also how one speech defined an era, and how it continues to inspire today.”
The genesis, occasion and aftermath of what Winston Churchill unhesitatingly called the most important speech of my career’ . White fully reproduces the address and reminds us that Churchill’s call for increased Anglo-American solidarity in the face of Soviet aggression was not particularly well received Today, we remember it as one of the defining statements of the twentieth century.’ White’s at his best painting the small scenes in the background of the event: Churchill’s construction of the speech as he sunbathed and painted, the whiskey and poker-fueled train ride with Truman to Missouri and especially the frantic preparations for the big day by Westminster and Fulton officials, including the charismatic college president who conceived of the long-shot invitation to a world figure who unexpectedly said yes. A small slice of history charmingly retold.”
[An] absorbing reconstruction of events leading up to Fulton’s fifteen minutes of fame . White shines a warm and winning spotlight on rural postwar America as he describes the hamlet’s feverish preparation to host the leader.”
The background and analysis White offers are valuable.”
In Cold War history, the Westminster speech is cited frequently as a seminal moment in the skein of events that dominated the world for the next half-century. From time to time, I wondered, Why Westminster? Was it simply because President Truman hailed from Missouri?’ The story is far more complex, and it is related entertainingly by Philip White in a first book that marks him as a historian to be watched.”
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Top Customer Reviews
The broad subject, how the free world confronts totalitarian regimes, seems as relevant today as ever before. But what I found most compelling is the way the author moves effortlessly between the global stage on which Churchill and Truman played and the nostalgic details that transported me into the world of small-town America in the 1940s. This is a special book - highly recommended!
It begins at the end of WWII, at Potsdam, as Churchill met Truman for the first time and lost the 1945 election. In that bitter conference Churchill seems to have finally realised the duplicity of the Soviets, and that Europe has simply traded one dictator for another. This sets the scene nicely for what is to come, both in showing Churchill's thoughts, and also how he came to be a private citizen (although the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, but to be fair this was probably as close to being a private citizen as Churchill ever was).
We then segue to Fulton, Missouri, and focus on Bullet McClure and Westminster College - and his incredible idea to invite Churchill to give the annual 1946 Green Foundation lecture. Introduced by Truman (itself a feat of some doing), the letter finds Churchill receptive, and the focus is then on Churchill in America, writing and giving the speech.
Its clear that for all Churchill spoke as a "private citizen" that he took care to clear his words with his Government and (deniably) with Truman himself. The text of the speech is reproduced in full.
In addition to all the above, it's the story of how a small college in a small town found itself hosting a great man to give a historic speech. It's both a scholarly work, well researched and footnoted, and also very readable: the practical difficulties involved are made clear, and the personal side of these great events is never overlooked. As a study of rhetoric of the Cold War - and how it was perceived and framed, at least in the West - its unique. If you have an interest in the Cold War or Churchill, this is great book.
But it was not to be. Having met with Stalin many times, whose hands were at least as bloody as Hitler's, he understood that the free world could not even catch its breath before facing another challenge: that of the shadow of Soviet domination. There were those who were war-weary and did not want to face this challenge so soon after WWII, there were others who were apologists for the Soviet system (and who really believed all that "Uncle Joe" propaganda) and finally there were those who were actively working within the British and American governments for the interests of the USSR instead of their respective governments.
Churchill recognized this, just as he recognized the type of threat presented by Nazi Germany the decade before.
Due to a set of interesting circumstances presented in Philip White's book we get the whole story of how Churchill's so-called "Iron Curtain" speech came about in the town of Fulton, Missouri. The speech does not simply deal with the topic of communist domination but also discusses the future of freedom as only the great orator Churchill could. It defined the reality of Soviet moves in the months following WWII, whowing Soviet aggression for what it was.
It was a great speech and this is a great book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always wonder why Churchill made such an important speech in a small town in central Missouri, Why Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kevin M Quigg
As a child of the Fifties and graduate of this great institution my thoughts have been formulated by Churchill's idea of the
responsibilities of our great country and the... Read more
White's depiction of the events leading up this watershed occasion illustrate the author's intense research, dedication to detail, and hunger for showing the interconnection of... Read morePublished 18 months ago by MS
And not just any speech, but one that gave the term "iron curtain" to the age and language. The speaker was Winston Churchill, who had lost the mid-1945 election to... Read morePublished on December 29, 2013 by Chris Sterling
I just finished Mr. White's book, "Our Supreme Task," about 5 minutes ago and I must say it was a rather fascinating, inspiring and informative read. Read morePublished on July 16, 2013 by Mark I. Sutherland
Easy to read and gives the reader an idea how events like this are accomplished, and all the work that goes into something that appears so simple - like giving a single... Read morePublished on May 3, 2013 by C. Hill
I greatly enjoyed this book. As an ex-diplomat, whose career spanned the last years of the Cold War, I was fascinated to learn the genesis of this phrase - and in such,... Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by Nick Carter
As someone who normally considers getting to the point without extraneous detail or description a virtue, I have to admit I changed my mind completely, at least for this book. Read morePublished on April 14, 2013 by Steve Wunsch
This is an excellent book with a very important message. It should be added to national cirricula all over the world. Read morePublished on March 14, 2013 by maffism