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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: 6.4 x 3.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,406 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

Customer Reviews

Churchill is one of the greats of our century!
Thomas W. Armstrong
Paul Reid manages to complete this final volume of The Last Lion without compromising the great work that William Manchester began in the first two volumes.
alh
My husband read this book and said it was very well written.
Likes a Good Book

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

262 of 269 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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174 of 179 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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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Mike Powers on April 30, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940," the second of William Manchester?s projected three-volume biography of Winston Spencer Churchill, continues telling the story of the life of the 20th century?s greatest statesman. This volume covers the eight-year period from the beginning of Churchill?s longest period in the political "wilderness," to his rise to power as Prime Minister of Great Britain at the beginning of World War II. I think this book is even better than the first volume, "The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932." Manchester contends that the inter-war years, and not his years as Prime Minister, were Churchill?s personal "finest hour." Politically ostracized by two successive Prime Ministers ? Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, the main architects of Britain?s policy of appeasing Nazi Germany ? Churchill was one of only a handful of men in Britain to speak out in favor of increased military preparedness as a means of countering the growing Nazi threat in Europe. Only when it became obvious in the late 1930s that the appeasement of Hitler had failed, did the British nation turn to the one man who had consistently advocated standing up to the Nazi dictator: Winston Spencer Churchill

As he did in the first volume of Churchill?s life, Manchester provides an insightful historical overview of the times in which Churchill lived. Especially fascinating to me was the account of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain?s 1938 trip to Munich, where the most infamous act of appeasing Hitler ? the sellout of Czechoslovakia ? took place, and where Chamberlain believed he had achieved "peace in our times."

"The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940" once again clearly demonstrates why William Manchester is one of the pre-eminent biographers at work today.
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193 of 203 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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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
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