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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 Hardcover – May 30, 1983

1,262 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Last Lion Series

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Product Details

  • Series: THE LAST LION
  • Hardcover: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (May 30, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316545031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316545037
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

William Manchester is Professor of History Emeritus at Wesleyan University. His bestselling books include The Last Lion, a multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill; American Caesar, a biography of Douglas MacArthur; The Death of a President, The Arms of Krupp, and A World Lit Only by Fire. He lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

278 of 287 people found the following review helpful By Raoul on October 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been nervously awaiting this book for years. My first encounter with Manchester came when volume one first came out. I was a child, and I went to visit my grandmother (who was in London during the Blitz); she held the book up to show me what she was reading. "The man." she said. "The great, great man."

Years later, I read the first two volumes almost in one sitting - couldn't put them down - and have reread large parts of them over the years (every time I looked some piece up I'd find myself sitting down for an hour or two because I couldn't stop). I remember when Finest Hour reported that the trilogy would never be finished: it was like a punch in the stomach.

I had my doubts about the ability of another author to write worthily of Manchester, and I was afraid this volume wouldn't measure up. No need to worry: this is every bit as much a page-turner as the last two volumes. It's not QUITE Manchester - I thought I could feel a bit of a difference in style, somehow - and yet it IS extremely good, much better than I had expected.

Like the first two volumes, we begin with a preamble ("The Lion Hunted") in which we are (re-)acquainted with the book's subject. There is a certain amount of repetition of material from the two earlier preambles, but much good new material as well. I've read thousands of pages on Churchill, but even I found some good new anecdotes and quotations here. After that we're hurled right into the middle of the most dramatic days of World War Two. The unexpected, catastrophic defeats; the incompetence and perfidy of the people in charge of France - it doesn't take much from a writer to make this an exciting story, and yet I don't think it has ever been told better than this. Really, just what I had hoped for from Manchester himself.
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179 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Glenn McDorman on September 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are many good biographies out there, but a great one is rare. This is one of the great ones; William Manchester has taken the art of biography to a new level. Most biographies are merely "interesting," rarely making any effort to give the reader a sense of what it would have been like to be or know the subject. Manchester does just that. Rather than write a narrative story of Winston Churchill's life, he has chosen instead to give us a rich tapestry of Chrchill's life as it was woven. Many biographers are simply idolizers of their subjects; this is not so with Manchester. He reserves no harsh judgment, just as he reserves no due praise; when he is reporting something negative that Winston did he says it was negative, and explains why.
But The Last Lion is more than just a biography. In attempting to capture the essence of Churchill Manchester has written some of the best material about World War I and the appeasement crisis. It is rare that historical events can be made to feel like the present, but Manchester has done this.
Both volumes of this work are well worth your money, your time, and your attention. Indeed, the only bad part of Manchester's biography is that he will not be able to finish it. It is not known how much of the third volume he was able to put together before Alzheimer's made work impossible for him, but it can be hoped that whatever he was able to do will someday be published, no matter how unpolished it may be.
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198 of 208 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Defender of the Realm, 1940 -- 1965" is the final volume of William Manchester's massive three-volume biography, "The Last Lion", of Winston Churchill (1874 -- 1965). The first volume, published in 1983, titled "Visions of Glory", covered Churchill's life from 1874 -- 1932, while the second volume, published in 1988, titled simply "Alone, covered the years 1932 -- 1940. This new sweeping third volume covers Churchill's life beginning with his ascension to the office of Prime Minister in 1940. It focuses upon the WW II years, follows Churchill during the years between 1945 and his second period as Prime Minister from 1951 -- 1955, and concludes with Churchill's years of comparative retirement up to his death. The biography was a near lifetime project for Manchester (1922 -- 2004). Manchester had researched the third volume of the trilogy, prepared well-organized and voluminous notes, and done some of the writing. Near the end of his life, however, Manchester realized he would be unable to complete the third volume. He selected journalist Paul Reid to complete the work.

The result of Manchester's and Reid's efforts is a detailed, dense study of 1200 pages. The book offers a thorough, multi-faceted look at the complex statesman that was Winston Churchill, in his determination, devotion to Great Britain and to civilization, brilliance, and frequent pettiness. Because Churchill's personal life was inextricably intertwined with his public life, this book goes far beyond biography. It is a masterful political and military history of the WW II years and, to a lesser extent, of the years following.

Churchill the man is most in focus in the 50-page "Preamble" to the book.
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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Mike Powers TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 30, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932," is the first of William Manchester's projected three-volume biography of Winston Spencer Churchill. I found it a superbly crafted, supremely well researched account of the first 58 years of the life of the 20th century's greatest statesman. With wit and candor, Manchester chronicles Churchill from his earliest days as the neglected and troublesome first child of Lord Randolph Churchill and his American-born wife, Jennie, to his entry into the political "wilderness" over home rule in India in 1932. Manchester's portrait of his subject is balanced and objective; we see Churchill at his finest: a courageous (almost to the point of foolhardiness) army officer, and later a gifted Member of Parliament who became one of the youngest Cabinet ministers in British history. We also see him at his worst: a Cabinet minister with appalling political judgment at times, quick to meddle in other ministers' affairs while neglecting his own, and with an uncanny ability to alienate not only his political foes, but almost all his political allies as well.

In addition to a wonderfully written chronology of Churchill's life, Manchester provides an overview of the times in which Churchill lived. I was fascinated by the author's account of Victorian England -- its culture, its mores, and its view of itself in the world. The sections which describe Churchill's times make highly entertaining and absorbing reading by themselves.

"The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932," clearly shows why William Manchester is one of the pre-eminent biographers at work today.
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