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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 (780 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,871 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


"[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 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 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

It is a "must read" for anyone interested in the life of Winston Churchill; Highly recommended!
Mike Powers
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.
Well researched with great historical detail and very interesting profile of family lineage, the times and human behavior.
Bruce A. Hendrickson

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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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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185 of 193 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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