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The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill's World War II Speeches 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199642526
ISBN-10: 0199642524
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Editorial Reviews


"This well-written and well-researched book is essential for all Churchill scholars as well as those interested in wartime Britain." -- Library Journal

About the Author

Richard Toye was born in Cambridge in 1973. He studied at the Universities of Birmingham and Cambridge, and is currently Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. His books include Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness, Churchill's Empire: The World that Made Him and the World He Made, and Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction. He lives in Exeter with his wife and their two sons.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199642524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199642526
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Toye was born in Cambridge, UK in 1973 and spent the first part of his childhood there. As a teenager his interest in history was stimulated by reading the works of George Orwell and Robert Graves. He studied at the universities of Birmingham and Cambridge, and is now a Professor at the University of Exeter. In 2007 he was named Young Academic Author of the Year for his book on Lloyd George and Churchill.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Reinhard on March 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There was a lot I didn't know about the reception of his speeches. It was fascinating to read some of the first hand accounts of how people in Britain reacted to the now iconic speeches with remarks like, "Oh, he is drunk again," or "He is so bellicose." It turns out that though there were almost no opinion surveys of the kind we have now, the British government did send out interviewers to gather opinions from citizens and to sit around in various public places and record how people were thinking. It is fascinating.

Another thing I found really interesting and that I had not thought about much before was the reaction in foreign countries to Churchill's speeches, especially in the occupied territories. It turns out they had a strong effect.

The book is organized around each major public address he gave through the war years. Toye goes through the background political situation and brings out a lot of details about the problems that that Churchill was trying to address with each speech and the multiple audiences that he had in mind. It brings a whole new depth to the speeches. Although you hear a lot of disparaging and dismissive remarks about his oratory--especially from the British themselves--in the end, I found that I had even more respect and admiration for Churchill's rhetoric and the content of his addresses.

This book was a great pleasure to read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Brittain on December 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Toye’s reason for this book goes like this: Churchill’s war-time speeches have achieved a kind of iconic status as events that mobilized the entire nation to greater efforts in fighting the war, but they were not really like that: a lot of people were critical and not especially motivated by them. And I would agree with him on the basis of that statement alone without having to read an entire book written to support that thesis. After all, few speeches have not had detractors. But to give Mr. Toye his due, he has interesting things to say about the different results of the speeches, and he highlights the effect of certain speeches that are not that well known today, e.g., the “War of the Unknown Warriors” speech.

The book follows a certain rhythm: Toye introduces a speech, analyzes the political situation that made it necessary, and then discusses the public’s reaction to it based on a variety of sources – government agencies whose purpose was to gather this information, opinions from memoirs of the time, and many “man-in-the-street” opinions in the form of personal diary entries. What do we learn from this? That there were a whole range of opinions about the speech, based on a wide variety of personal views and situations. And then the process starts over with another speech, and after a while, all this gets somewhat repetitive and tedious. What I didn’t get a clear sense of was which speeches the author found as most popular and therefore hopefully most motivating. A selection of the top five, for instance, would have been helpful, and, if having named them, the author could presumably have gone into more detail on the rhetorical devices that seemed most effective. ( I was struck in reading many of the speech excerpts to realize how old-fashioned – baroque, even – much of the language was, and if a lot of the working population found his elegant phrases ridiculous, it’s not surprising. )
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William R. Franklin VINE VOICE on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Mr Toye’s thesis, stated quite early on, is that the commonly held assessment of Winston Churchill’s war time speeches, namely that his brilliant oratory was the catalyst that solidified and galvanised a nation and helped lead it to victory against the Nazi hordes, is patently incorrect. He asserts that Churchill’s rhetoric was often indifferently and, sometimes, contemptuously received and that, in many of his broadcasts, including the famous “finest hour” speech, he might even have been drunk. The problem with this novel idea is that it is nothing new. Anyone even remotely familiar with the times recognises that many of Churchill’s speeches were unappreciated even by his most ardent supporters and that he occasionally seemed not only drunk but positively sozzled.

Mr Toye’s second point, that his book is the only one that attempts to analyse the body of Churchill’s speeches in terms of their national and international context and ramifications, is harder to contest, at least by me since I know of no other such treatment.

The uniqueness, or lack thereof, of this new work notwithstanding, it is clear that Mr Toye has presented a most readable, even lively, account of a critical period in world history viewed from the platform of Churchill’s elocution. Though the book has copious notes, Mr Toye often illustrates his points with a single opinion voiced by a school teacher, a pub patron or similar. Also, as in any history, Mr Toye cannot refrain from occasional speculation.

However, these minor quibbles will not prevent the reader from enjoying this largely informative account.
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