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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 Hardcover – November 6, 2012


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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 + The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940 + The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1183 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316547700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316547703
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6 x 2.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,020 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

"[Reid's] palpable enthusiasm at thinking about Churchill demonstrates once again...the grip this iconic figure can still exercise on the imagination....Reid...use[s] his journalist's eye to pick up on small details or points of color that illustrate a wider truth."—Richard Aldous, New York Times Book Review

"Masterful.... It was worth the wait.... 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

"Mr. Reid...following Manchester's lead,...dutifully includes both the admiring and disparaging remarks of Churchill's colleagues and contemporaries, presenting everyone's take with equanimity."—Wall Street Journal

"This book is superb. It has tremendous pace, rich detail and immense drama."—Washington Post

"Reid has produced a third Last Lion...that is both magisterial and humane. Cue the trumpets."—Vanity Fair

"It's a must-read finale for those who loved Manchester's first two books."—USA Today

"The final volume of Manchester's life of Winston Churchill is majestic and inspiring."—People

"Masterful... [and] breathtaking....Reid...finished the race with agility, grace, and skill....This is a book that is brilliant and beautiful, evocative and enervating."—Boston Globe

"Reid has produced a volume about the climax of Churchill's career which ably captures the fullness of the story.... Reid's narrative...is straightforward, well written, and compelling."—Steven F. Hayward, The Weekly Standard

"The long-delayed majestic account of Winston Churchill's last 25 years is worth the wait....Manchester (and Reid) 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

"Those who want a detailed account of Churchill's two terms as prime minister and leadership during World War II will find this book a literary feast.....It's a worthy finale to an exhaustive portrait of one of the last century's true titans."—Washington Times

"This is surely the best installment of the [series]....Reid has written a winning, full-blooded biography."—Newsday

"Reid has written a thorough and complete analysis of these years, and it is a worthy finale to the first two volumes."—Terry Hartle, Christian Science Monitor

"Reid learned well from Manchester, and the finished book is a worthy conclusion to what must be considered one of the most thorough treatments of Churchill so far produced. An essential conclusion to Manchester's magnum opus."—Library Journal (starred review)

"A distinguished contribution to Churchilliana, giving a lively, fully rounded account that maintains its balance even while it sustains an admiring legend of the great man."—Michael Marrus, Globe and Mail

"[Reid] keeps the 1,000-plus pages turning....[he] has heeded the words of his subject, and brought the decades-long project begun by his mentor to a dignified conclusion."—Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Reid completes William Manchester's work in excellent, memorable fashion."—Emmett Tyrrell, American Spectator

"The third and final volume of a massive work of biography is a tribute not only to Manchester but also to Reid, whose courage in accepting the job is matched by his success in telling the story."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Critics and Churchill fans are calling it a terrific effort that was worth the wait."—Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"Churchill was the greatest man of the last century and this is the greatest biography of him."—John Lescroart, The Sacramento Bee

"[Reid] turned in a book that is well worth the wait. A large part of Manchester's popularity is the accessibility of his books. Reid has preserved that and ensured that Churchill's personality-not just his actions-come through."—Charlotte Observer

"[An] in-depth narrative that nicely conveys the challenges facing Churchill....Impressive."—Bloomberg Businessweek

"Defender of the Realm is a worthy addition to the set... This accomplishment elevates Reid to a high rank among American writers of biography and history - and makes him a literary asset for North Carolina."—Doug Clark, Greensboro News and Record

"Readers...will be taken by [Manchester's] boundless abilities as a storyteller."—Kirkus Reviews

"Reid's got the research right, down to the day, down to the minute...As Reid chronicles Churchill's private aspects-his wittiness, sybaritic consumption of scotch and cigars, and moods bordering on depression...Manchester was one of the best Churchill biographers, and this capstone to his magnum opus ought not to be missed."—Booklist

"Magnificently delineated....The story of Churchill and Britain in the Second World War...is vividly evoked by Manchester and Reid."—Winnipeg Free Press

"This is a big, rich savory stew of a book...deeply satisfying for those who have waited too long to be told-again-how The Last Lion finally ends."—MacKenzie Carpenter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"True, Defender of the Realm is a big book. But Winston Churchill was a big man. Read all about him."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Reid masters the details and sweep of an extraordinary story."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"This biography has the dramatic punch of a great novel."—Newark Sunday Star Ledger

"This book brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense."—Ernie Arico, The Daytona Beach News-Journal

"This book reminds us to remember...[Churchill's] iron will and ability to focus."—Bob Schieffer, CBS's Face the Nation

"The third and final volume...presents a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of a brilliant, flawed and dynamic leader."—Betsy Teter, Tryon Herald-Journal

"Of five notable books about Churchill in recent years, the most remarkable is William Manchester and Paul Reid's Defender of the Realm."—Dennie Hall, The Oklahoman

"[A] wonderful literary work."—Bill Marriott, Huffington Post

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Customer Reviews

Excellent research, well written and a fascinating story.
Pf
AFTERWORD: William Manchester died in 2004 before he could complete the third and final volume of his great triptych on the life of Winston Churchill.
Mike Powers
Highly recommended for any history buff or anyone wanting a great read.
Musket

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

237 of 242 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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162 of 167 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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147 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Ruffini on July 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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77 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Mike Powers 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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