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Churchill: A Biography Hardcover – November 15, 2001
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Marked by the author's wide experience writing on British leaders such as Balfour and Gladstone and his tenure as a member of Parliament, his book adds much to the vast library of works on Churchill. While acknowledging his subject's prickly nature, Jenkins credits Churchill for, among other things, recognizing far earlier than his peers the dangers of Hitler's regime. He praises Churchill for his leadership during the war years, especially at the outset, when England stood alone and in imminent danger of defeat. He also examines Churchill's struggle to forge political consensus to meet that desperate crisis, and he sheds new light on Churchill's postwar decline. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
If a reader were to select this work by Jenkins they would not gain a complete insight into the legendary figure that Sir Winston Spencer Churchill is. That a new biography approaching 1,000 pages made the NYT Bestseller's List is a testimony to Churchill's place in history. I doubt there is a politician that is more quoted than Sir Winston. The primary differences between the two books I mention are of style and completeness. Martin Gilbert in an accomplished historian, while Mr. Jenkins writes from a perspective of a man who sat in the House of Commons, witnessed Churchill in action, and documents his life primarily as a politician. There are formative episodes that are not included at all, which in the end prevents this very fine work from being a well-rounded documentary. A young Churchill spent time in Ireland, but this was never mentioned. The downfall of his father was much more complicated than the space allotted in this work, and his mother too is not represented enough.
The book also lacks extended time with the Churchill who was an amazing raconteur at dining tables from a very young age. Many of the great quotes from Churchill are not in this book, and many others are given short shrift. Mr. Jenkins style also takes a bit more effort than many may choose to expend. William F. Buckley Jr.Read more ›
In more than 900 pages, Jenkins barely touches on Churchill's personal life, his relationship with "Clemmie," his children or with anyone outside the closeted world of British politics. The little details of daily life, which provide density and color -- what brand of cigars he smoked, what books he read for pleasure, what he ate for breakfast -- are almost entirely missing.
A greater fault, in my view, is that Jenkins fails to adequately explore and explain Churchill's place in the decline and fall of the British Empire, which took place in great part during Churchill's watches. This is a story, as Jenkins tells it, mostly of the Old Boy's club, of Asquith and Lloyd George and Chamberlain and all the rest. Reading Jenkins, you would hardly know that during the course of Churchill's life one of the world's greatest powers and greatest empires became an also ran on the world's stage.
Granted, Jenkins is a masterful writer with a great grasp of the politics of 20th century Britain. If politics, in great detail, is all you demand of a biography, then Roy Jenkins' Churchill will suit you very adequately.
His own experiences uniquely qualify him to describe Churchill's political fortunes and maneuverings, although the American reader may find the Teens and Twenties either slow going or not sufficiently illuminating of Britain's odd political system, wherein politicians regularly shopped around for a district to represent, even after being defeated in another.
This is a fairly traditional public and political bio, not a psychoanalysis (not to imply that Churchill HAD much of a personal life to expose), and moves along at a surprisingly good clip despite its 900-plus pages.
Jenkins fully reminds us that Churchill basically earned his living as a writer -- the contracts, writing schedules, and royalties are carefully recorded -- though politics was his avocation.
The author writes cleanly and engagingly, though he seems inordinately fond of unnecessarily unusual words like "psephological" and "rumbustious." On the other hand, his wit is dry and regularly in evidence.
The U.S. hardcover edition by Farrar, Straus & Giroux is clean until about the halfway point, whereupon one begins to encounter "Feburary" (436), "replies hardly every being allowed" (553) "shore up the the" (706), "dimayed" (721), "The opposition could chose when to relax" (837-8), and similar infelicities.
All in all, Jenkins seems to strike a nice balance between a healthy respect for his subject and a clear eye for Churchill's weaknesses, changes of direction, and occasional seizures of dishonesty.
Well illustrated with more than 90 b&w photos.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Easy to read, very informative. Not entirely without bias, but also seems mired in fact.Published 4 months ago by C. Silvey
This book was a massive undertaking, and is very well written. I found it extremely interesting and recommend it. However, as a biography it has some shortcomings. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Matthew H. Dick
I read this book when it came out in 2001 and upon going back to it recently for further research on Churchill, I wanted to, 14 years after reading the book, just to say what an... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Paul
Although I found the text a bit plodding at times, I felt compelled to read the entire book, because Churchill was such a commanding figure of the 20th Century. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Martin Chinn
There is much to like about Jenkins' biography of Churchill. The author was a significant politician in his own right and his knowledge of the parliamentary system provides the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Stephen Hughes
long and detailed, full of deep insights on the character of the greatest leader of the 20th centuryPublished 17 months ago by Fer
BRILLIANT AND OUTSTANDING...!!! Having read dozens of Churchill¨s novels and biographies; I trully beleive that Jenkings Biography is perhaps one of the best and most reliable... Read morePublished 17 months ago by salustio
Must concur with general reputation as "best one volume" biography of Churchill. Names and titles are a bit tedious, but Jenkins is well qualified to comment on entire... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jon Bond