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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 [Kindle Edition]

William Manchester , Paul Reid
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,038 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $20.00
Kindle Price: $19.99
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Spanning the years of 1940-1965, THE LAST LION picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister-when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action. THE LAST LION brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense; compelled FDR into supporting America's beleaguered cousins, and personified the "never surrender" ethos that helped the Allies win the war, while at the same time adapting himself and his country to the inevitable shift of world power from the British Empire to the United States.

More than twenty years in the making, THE LAST LION presents a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of this brilliant, flawed, and dynamic leader. This is popular history at its most stirring.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The second volume of the late Manchester’s Churchill biography (The Last Lion: Alone, 1988) left its audience in suspense with Churchill’s appointment as British prime minister in May 1940 and in anticipation of how Manchester would present Churchill’s and Britain’s finest hour in WWII. Foiled by illness, Manchester tapped Paul Reid, who has magnificently completed Manchester’s work. Opening with a character sketch of Churchill in his multifaceted guises of sentimentality, egotistical insensitivity, and brilliance, Reid dives into Churchill’s war leadership in 1940 that is the cynosure of his place in history. Reid’s got the research right, down to the day, down to the minute. He shows Churchill defying Hitler and appeasers––the French leadership and figures in the British government––who even in 1940 thought peace could be arranged with the triumphant Nazis. As Reid chronicles Churchill’s public speeches, communications, and strategy sessions, he affords regular glimpses at Churchill’s private aspects—his wittiness, sybaritic consumption of scotch and cigars, and moods bordering on depression. If reading Churchill’s life after 1945 entails an unavoidably anticlimactic quality, Reid nevertheless ably chronicles its main events of writing his WWII memoirs and assuming his second premiership of 1951–55. Manchester was one of the best Churchill biographers, and this capstone to his magnum opus ought not be missed. --Gilbert Taylor


“Majestic . . . This book is superb. It has tremendous pace, rich detail and immense drama.”The Washington Post
“Masterful . . . The collaboration completes the Churchill portrait in a seamless manner, combining the detailed research, sharp analysis and sparkling prose that readers of the first two volumes have come to expect.”—Associated Press
“Matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris, joining this elite bank of writers who devote their lives to one subject.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Breathtaking . . . brilliant and beautiful, evocative.”—The Boston Globe
“A must-read finale for those who loved Manchester’s first two books.”—USA Today
“The final volume is . . . majestic and inspiring.”People
“One of the most thorough treatments of Churchill so far produced.”Library Journal (starred review)

Product Details

  • File Size: 8706 KB
  • Print Length: 1183 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0076DEPUK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,304 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
240 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Final Volume October 31, 2012
By Raoul
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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163 of 168 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the real thing September 28, 2002
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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147 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chronicle of courage July 14, 2002
William Manchester's first Churchill volume covers the first fifty eight years of Winston's life. His second, "Alone," covers just eight. Assuming that there will be a third, it will cover the final quarter century, including most of World War II and Churchill's two spells as Prime Minister. To the elementary observer, these divisions seem somewhat out of sorts.
It's only by reading that middle volume that we understand just how critical those eight years were. Above all, "Alone" is a morality play -- the best one I know -- about what happens when democracies fail to confront aggression. At no other time in the 20th Century were so many people so wrong about a matter as grave as the Nazi buildup in the 1930s. Only Winston Churchill and a few of his cohorts disagreed at the time.
Early in the book, Manchester briefly lays out a powerful case for Britain's aversion to confronting Germany. Britain sensed the unfairness of the Versailles "diktat," and reacted strongly against it. To a great degree, London was fed up with France's insolence after the war, both in its lust for revenge against Germany, and in the flaccid disillusionment of Paris intellectuals. At the same time, Great Britain was a nation cornered by two bloodthirsty wolves -- Nazism and Bolshevism. In order to defeat the other, one would have to be appeased. Being a country dominated by aristocrats, Britain chose to enlist Hitler as a bulwark against Communism. In doing so, they ignored the basic fact of geopolitical proximity: only Germany, abutting France and a few hundred miles away from Britain's shores, had the capacity to strike at the West. Britain's aristocrats bet wrong, and Churchill, ever the "traitor to his class" immediately recognized it.
Churchill's story also holds valuable lessons for us today.
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78 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Volume 1 of the life of Winston Spencer Churchill 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good.
Published 22 hours ago by jay swartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by s. alan kew
4.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Foundation to Understanding
I found the background to the build up of WWII the most fascinating component.
A Churchillian perspective obviously, but enlightening nonetheless and really well written.
Published 3 days ago by Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A long read but interesting for someone who rembers
Published 3 days ago by Harold Neufeld
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful completion to a brilliant trilogy
A detailed, well-researched, and compelling look at the life of England's greatest statesman. Reid seamlessly completed the project that was William Manchester's masterpiece.
Published 13 days ago by Cindy Coggin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
For a Churchillian neophyte--good stuff!
Published 15 days ago by tom murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Reid has a fine talent for including details of interest to the reader
A thoroughly researched and well crafted bibliography of a larger than life global leader. I acquired this book after listening to an interview with Paul Reid on NPR. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Stewart E. Sutin
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Very good information but not as well written as the Manchester volumes.
Published 17 days ago by JimVColo
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good biography of Churchill in spite of serious problems
Review of THE LAST LION VOL.2 ALONE. Since Amazon seems to have mixed the reviews of volumes Two and Three, let me be clear that this review is about the second volume, ALONE,... Read more
Published 18 days ago by sid1gen
5.0 out of 5 stars I read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them very much
Several years ago, I read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them very much. Recently, someone recommended this book, so I bought it.
Published 19 days ago by Jennifer A. Stout
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More About the Author

Paul Reid is an award-winning journalist. In late 2003 his friend, William Manchester, in failing health, asked Paul to complete The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm. Paul lives in North Carolina.

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