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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile biography, but an essential reference to the true man, May 24, 2012
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This review is from: Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill (Hardcover)
Given the title, you could be forgiven for thinking, as I did, that this book might be a thin-ish collection of photos like G. Bruce Boyer's Fred Astaire Style (Memoire) (an excellent book for what it is, but not especially substantive). In fact, Barry Singer has given us a decent medium-depth biography of The Man of The (Twentieth) Century enhanced with a great deal of fascinating information about the practices and preferences that helped make Churchill the man he was.

When I lived in the New York area, I was able to visit Singer's excellent Chartwell Booksellers in Manhattan, and although I never met the man himself, I was always convinced that the proprietor was someone who really knows his Churchill. That comes across in this book, too. The basic biography in "Churchill Style" is, as I said above, medium-depth and doesn't really break a lot of new ground. Still, it is well done (the one obvious error I noted was in the caption to the photo on page 169, where Admiral Harold Stark is mis-identified as William Leahy), and would serve as a great introductory biography for anyone new to the topic. I should note that Singer's biographizing thins out quite a bit during the World War 2 years, although those are also, of course, the years most extensively documented in many, many other sources.

Where Singer's work really, really shines, is introducing and illustrating the items, brands, sources, and influences of the personal items with which Churchill surrounded himself, and through which he defined his style and lived his distinctive life. The author has done great work excavating ancient invoices, purchase orders, thank-you notes, and much more to show how Churchill provisioned himself, and helpfully includes contact information to as many of those sources as still exist today. Many visitors to this website would surely envy the seeming abandon with which Churchill purchased books by the literal hundreds in the early years of the last century, though that certainly contributed to what the dustcover blurb describes as WSC's "gift for living well beyond his means." Churchill's other gifts -- including, most notably, those for work and for friendship -- also shine through in these pages.

I won't hesitate to call this book an essential addition to the shelves of any Churchill historian, student, or fan. With so many books about Churchill coming out every year, it can be hard to identify which ones are really worth paying attention to. "Churchill Style" definitely makes the list.
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