Winston Churchill: The Last Lion. Visions of Glory 1874-1932

Lady Randolph Churchill
Lady Randolph Churchill
Lord Randolph Churchill
Lord Randolph Churchill
Winston age 10
Winston age 10
Winston age 19
Winston age 19
Winston in France during WW1
Winston in France during WW1
Winston in the House of Commons after WW1
Winston in the House of Commons after WW1
Source

A book review by L.L.Conners


Most of us are familiar with Winston Churchill's heroic and inspiring service to Great Britain during World War Two. In this immensely readable book by the late historian William Manchester, we discover the early trials and triumphs that helped form this most outstanding leader of the 20th century.

Manchester takes us through Winston's troubled childhood with an aloof father, Lord Randolph Spencer Churchill, and his mostly absent American mother,Lady Randolph, a beautiful and witty goldigger that fluttered in and out of British aristocracy, once having a two year sexual relationship with the Prince of Wales, the future King of England. Manchester makes no mention of her Iroquois heritage or the snake tattooed around her waist, which I think most interesting.

Raised by a loving governess, Mrs. Everest, Winston became self-sufficient early on in life. The book goes into great detail with the minutia of Winston's early proclivities for the written and spoken word and his fondness for miniature military battlefields, historically correct down to the units involved. Manchester's descriptions of this young and formidable Winston provides the reader with an understanding of Winston's incredible work ethic, personal drive, and self-confidence which eventually led to his being acknowledged as the greatest wartime leader of the 20th century..

The book transitions smoothly into Winston's escapades as a war correspondent during the Boer War...Here Winston inserts himself into the public's consciousness with superb and exciting reporting from the Boer front lines. His later daring escape from captivity is faithfully described in honest detail from several sources. This portion of Winston's life offered a great opportunity for the author to , shall we say, embellish the truth. Yet Manchester remains true to his historian roots and gives us a picture of a young, brash, and cocky Churchill, warts and all.

Leading up to WW1, we are given an insightful look at Churchill the master debater, his fitful political development, swinging from Liberal to Conservative with equal fervor, and flowery oratory in the House of Commons. Aided and abetted by his mother's stable of influential friends in the government, Winston becomes a force in British politics.

Manchester does a masterful job bringing together the true circumstances that created the Dardanelles disaster during WW1 which had been blamed on Winston. He describes with clarity the political atmosphere in Britain that resulted in Churchill's vilification and which hounded him for years after. But like so many other challenges in Winston's life, his perseverance and dogged pursuit of the truth vindicated him in the end.

The last chapters of the book show Churchill the father, the country squire tending to his beloved Chartwell, the talented painter of landscapes, and his enduring love for his dear " Pussy Cat ", Clemmy, and their four " kittens " . This was a time of prodigious literary output for Winston, which is critiqued scrupulously by Manchester.

For those that enjoy history, as I do, the book is full of interesting observations of that era and the people that lived it. One memorable scene described by Winston himself is the totally insane visage of British soldiers going over the top during the Somme offensive, kicking a soccer ball between the ranks as they were decimated by machine-gun fire. Totally insane, yet somehow, so British.

This first volume of the three volume set by Manchester is a delightfully entertaining biography of Winston Churchill's early and formative years. It is laced throughout with Winston's prodigious wit , intellect, and stamina. The book revealed a personal side of him that is lacking in most other Churchillian accounts.

The second volume, " Alone ", describes Winston's tumultous political struggles during 1932-1940 and the onset of World War Two.

Manchester died in 2004 while still at work on the final installment of his " Last Lion " trilogy, " Defender of the Realm 1940-1965 ". He entrusted the completion of this last volume to Paul Reid, a newspaper writer and close friend. Reid completed the final draft in 2010 and now awaits publication which is highly anticipated by readers around the world.

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Comments 54 comments

Partisan Patriot 5 years ago

maven

Well written; entertaining and informative; voted up and useful!


Joe Bricky profile image

Joe Bricky 5 years ago from Modesto CA

Well done, sir.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

PP...Thank you so much for the succinct and appreciated comments...I follow your humorous and cogent comments on BreakfastPop's weekly Hubs...To paraphrase Winston, I like a man that smiles when he fights...Larry


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Joe...Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment...I see that you teach fencing...Did you know that Winston won the Public Schools Fencing championship in foil in his youth.? Just another talent of this most amazing man...Larry


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Randolph Churchill, Winston's son, married Pamela Digby, who slept her way to the top, and later became Pamela Harriman, the wife of Averel Harriman, a business partner of Prescott Bush, and a Democrat party big-wig.

Pamela Harriman was instrumental in the election of Bill Clinton, who then appointed her ambassador to France.

There's an incestuously close, but largely unknown, relationship between members of the political class!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Maven, great piece on an awesome man, voted up and useful, a read I need to get into.

On a side note, not related, ever read "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross? great book IMO dust


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Will...Churchill's mother, Jennie, was the daughter of one of the owners of the New York Times, and as such was among a group known as the original “Dollar Princesses,” a group of wealthy American girls who crossed the Atlantic at this time in search of British men with titles. Among her reputed 200 lovers were a Prince, several Dukes, one Count, and the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Britain, Count Charles Andreas Kinsky.

Some allowance must be given for her extra-marital affairs since her husband, Lord Randolph, suffered from syphilis...

Thanks for dropping by, Will, and like PP above, I follow your interesting comments in BreakfastPop's weekly Hub...Larry


Joe Bricky profile image

Joe Bricky 5 years ago from Modesto CA

Maven, I had heard he was a fencer. I didn't know the specifics. Thanks for that.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Larry,

It's very interesting that Winston Churchill's mother and daughter-in-law were both prolific cheaters and political class, social climbers.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Dusty...I have read the book.The first part of the book is historically accurate and it made my blood boil when you see how badly our rights have been crapped on in such a short time. We have been and are being screwed.

America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system and too soon to shoot the bastards..

If you can't locate a copy of Manchester's book let me know and I will lend you my copy...No prob...Larry


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Joe...You are most welcome Sir...Larry


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Will...Yes it is very interesting and revealing of the women breaking out of the Victorian age of male dominance with a single-minded determination to dominate and influence powerful men with their bodies...Equally interesting is the fact that Churchill himself, never wavered in his devotion to his wife, the irresistibly witty, sophisticated, and fearsome defender of his honor...At a time when most powerful men engaged in extra-marital affairs, Winston remained true to Clemmy...A most honorable man...Larry


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I have great admiration for Winston Churchill, Larry. He was truly a great leader during WW II. It's always interesting to learn more about him. Manchester was a good writer, but I never got around to reading "The Last Lion..." Thanks.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"At a time when most powerful men engaged in extra-marital affairs, Winston remained true to Clemmy...A most honorable man..."

He certainly was, and I'm one of his greatest admirers. Without Winny, I believe the Battle of Britain and possibly the war itself might have been lost.

When Hitler began bombing London out of spite, Churchill said and did nothing to discourage it, knowing full well that the tactical error was the chance and respite they needed to rebuild the airfields and radar towers so they could defeat the Luftwaffe!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

You've give me something to put on my must read list. Winston Churchill, a great leader whose bust Obama returned to England. I suppose his massive ego wouldn't allow anyone dead or alive to share his stage. I have to say, I love it when you write. I wish you did it more often. Hopefully, I'll see you at breakfast in the morning. Up and awesome.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Hi Bill..Always a pleasure to read your comments to my hubs...Manchester is that rare historian that writes with a clarity that goes directly to the human equation of historical events...I found myself making notations in the margin questioning certain aspects of WW1 strategy. I should not have bothered. The next chapter usually answered my pending questions in full, with addendum's and sources...

Its a wonderful read, full of anecdotal observations, over 800 pages long, but never boring or without humor mixed with pathos...such was the in some ways, quixotic life of Sir Winston Churchill...an honorable man, forever tilting at windmills, and knocking down quite a few...Larry


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Will...Your mention of Churchill's understanding of the value of deception reminded me of his pre-war quote when Neville Chamberlain was pursuing a national policy of appeasement with Germany. He said: An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last....We all know what happened next, and Winston was once again proven correct in his assessment of fascism...Larry


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

My dear breakfastpop...Somehow I knew if you read this Hub and responded you would mention Obama's disgustingly ignorant decision to return the Churchill bust back to England...How petty, how blissfully unaware this empty suit is of the contributions Churchill made to insure democracy survived WW2 and the cold war that followed...Unbelievable...

I always look forward to your weekly breakfast Hubs with your always pertinent and intelligent commentaries and the chatter around the table with concerned, intellectually engaged Americans and other like-minded folks from around the world...Larry


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Americans are more likely to think highly of Churchill than the Brits do. Many never forgave him for not speaking out against the bombing of London.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Yes, and many still are ignorant of the facts pertaining to Gallipoli and Jellico's failures at Jutland...The post-war commission findings cleared Winston of any culpability in the planning and execution of the Dardanelles campaign...In fact, if carried out as Winston originally planned the War would have been shortened by years, without the massive slaughter in the fields of France...Once again, British commanders refused to act quickly and decisively, instead squandering good men in massed attacks long telegraphed to the enemy...

With regard to the London blitz, I can think of no man having the intestinal fortitude to make that decision, and then remain quiet about the reasoning behind that decision...

Churchill, himself, has said that history will be kind to me, because I intend to write it...He didn't have to, many others, including Manchester, did it with the truth...Larry


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"With regard to the London blitz, I can think of no man having the intestinal fortitude to make that decision, and then remain quiet about the reasoning behind that decision..."

Exactly. He was counting on Hitler's madness. Had Hitler learned that he was playing into Churchill's hand by uselessly bombing London, he might have resumed his productive attacks on airfields and factories, so Churchill had to remain silent, knowing that it would anger his fellow Brits.

Courage.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

He knew London was full of Nazi spies and were reporting the effects of Hitler's " terror " bombing. Knowing this he had to keep silent to insure the anger and frustration directed at him would be reported to Hitler...

Courage, indeed...This little bulldog of a man had the courage of his convictions...I don't know if the world will ever again see such...In his lifetime he sued and won 7 libel cases against various newspapers in Britain...he knew he was right and made sure they knew he was damn right...The only failure he admits to is as The Chancellor of the Exchequer, where, out of his depth, he felt his advisers were " speaking Persian "...


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Maven, thanks for the offer but I have it. The other book I mentioned I found as you did the first half reminded me of my life in the 50s and how it has changed. dust


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Dusty...living off the grid, I imagine you have a million books...No wonder you can comment so intelligently on so many subjects...

What's your rooster's name?...Larry


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 5 years ago

You've made me want to read this book - I just put it on my list. Do you think we're looking for a Churchill, and that's why Chris Christie is so popular? Am I right in thinking there's a similarity in the way they say what they think.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Sheila...For most Americans born after 1970 Churchill didn't exist until WW2...He suddenly appears on the world stage in 1940, inspires the British in their darkest hour with his pugnacious spirit and inspirational speeches, then after the war, slowly fades away...That is the sound bite of Churchill that most Americans have of him...

Are we looking for a Churchill..? That is a wonderful question, Sheila, in more ways than one...It implies there is a Churchillian standard of sorts that is subconsciously desired more so by Americans even than the British...

Looking at Churchill and Christie one is immediately struck by the pugnacious nature of each...Neither will suffer fools, both are serious men, and both articulate their ideas and thoughts with clarity, wit, and intelligence...Both have a strong moral center and are comfortable in their own skins...But there the comparison ends...Churchill did not suddenly appear on the world stage in WW2...He had many years of political combat to form the Winnie we know of during the Battle of Britain...Christie is just now being tested, and so far he has held fast to his values and promises...That alone is rare in politics today...

We should have a much clearer picture of Christie by 2016 when I think he could be ready to challenge for the presidency...

Americans are desperate for a strong conservative voice that, like Reagan, takes his case directly to the people and bypasses the incestuous MSM and their progressive agenda...If Christie proves to be that man by 2016 he will surely get my vote...Larry


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Christie is the sort of fiery conservative candidate that voters so desperately desire. So far, all we have is mediocre at best, with campaign after campaign rolling out duds like John McCain, and now, Romney. Oh, please!


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Will....I think that was some of the draw to Trump...He took no prisoners and stated his positions clearly...His problem was having rabbit ears...He has a thin skin and a hugh ego...rather than stay the fight, his ego insisted on retreat...If he can't control it then better to dismiss it...Christie has none such...he is comfortable being who and what he is and makes no bones about it...I cannot imagine him backing down to anyone...


randslam profile image

randslam 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

I've read Manchester's first edition of The Last Lion, and found the incredible responsibility that Churchill was handed, even tho' he was not respected by many of his contemporaries, and the grace and wit and fortitude he revealed irrepressibly satisfying, as a reader.

Some of the chunks of the book that did surprise me were Churchill's elementary problems with school, (he was likely ADD, dyslexic and a host of other things); his incredible energy during the middle section of his life--he was forced to become a good writer as he was constantly broke: he suffered severe bouts of depression that he called his 'black dog.'


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

randslam...The responsibilities he carried throughout his career were not so much handed to him as actively sought after. Clementine writes that in many ways this was Winston's antidote for the " black dog " depressions that plagued him most of his life...His father, Lord Randolph, also suffered from deep depression.

Your observation that Winston may have been ADD may be correct, although later in life he was renowned for his powers of concentration, dissecting an opponent's argument point by point...He also resented authority, particularly when addressed to him, yet he was decisive in using authority in carrying out his responsibilities, such as the Irish troubles when he formed the Black and Tans and imbued them with extraordinary suppressive powers...

Thank you for the interesting comments...Looking at your profile page I see that you have writ a Hub on Ayn Rand...I'm looking forward to reading that Hub...Larry


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 5 years ago from upstate, NY

Churchill was perhaps the greatest statesman of the 20th century. Very interesting review!


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

wba...I agree...His place in human history is assured...If ever a man remained true unto himself, despite political pressures, public outcry and disaffection, libelous media attacks, and personal demons, Sir Winston Churchill was that man...His cutting wit and inspirational oratory is unmatched in modern political culture...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your appreciated comments...Larry


bethperry profile image

bethperry 5 years ago from Tennesee

You've made me want to read this now. I had read one book about Churchill years ago, but it seemed rather skimpy; this one sounds like it has a lot more info.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Hi Beth...Thank you for the comments, and yes, this is a good read, full of the personal side of Winnie and his family...His wife, Clemmy, figures prominently in the book also...Larry


moneycop profile image

moneycop 5 years ago from JABALPUR

its new experience to me to read all about churchill...great hub


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Moneycop...Interesting name...There is much to read in this book that is enlightening, with rare glimpses of his personal life and his stubborn refusal to accommodate or appease when making decisions that reflected his values...

Thanks for dropping by, your comments are appreciated...Larry


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

Very well written and illustrated Maven. I really learned a lot. It is always good to take in some history. Take care.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

tlw...Thanks for the appreciated comments...Yes, history teaches us to recognize and defeat tyranny in all its subtle forms...The hard-won lessons of yesterday puts perspective to the challenges of today...

We must never allow history to be denied or warped to accommodate the ever changing political and social winds that blow across the world in a constant swirl...Larry


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this wonderful review of a book about a man I totally admire, the great Sir Winston Churchill. His book "History of English Speaking Peoples" in one of my all-time favorites. I think I have seen every film and documentary extant about Churchill.

I enjoyed your review very much. Thanks again for this pleasure.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

James...Thank you reading and commenting on this Hub...I have admired your writing for two years now and I'm always impressed how you are willing to take on the controversial and present your views with such clarity, sagacity, and honesty...Your comments are always non-threatening and persuasive...go well, my friend...Larry


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

Great review. It draws the reader in and brings further interest to an already fascinating character. I've always admired Churchill just on the basis of this one retort alone to a woman who purportedly told him she would feed him poison if he were her husband to which he replied, "And if I were your husband I would drink it." Or something like that. I'd like to see a hub someday about Benjamin Disraeli, another Brit of enormous wit...


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

SP...Great to see you stopping by...Thanks for the appreciated comments...The Winston quote was made to Lady Astor at a dinner table which included several of the Queen's ladies in waiting...She was so distraught and embarrassed that she broke down crying...Winston offered her his napkin and apology, both of which she declined...

" another Brit of enormous wit "...Your closing comment reeks of iambic perfection...As you know, I follow your verse with perverse pleasure...Larry


LuxmiH profile image

LuxmiH 5 years ago from Fort Pierce, Florida

I loved reading this Hub and particularly enjoyed the comments afterwards. It was like an 'after the show' full of extra delights.

Growing up in Rhodesia we were well aquainted with Sir Winston but I must say I did not know the 'dirty low-down' about his mother and father.

What a wonderful Hub with delicious comments to boot. Voted up and awesome.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

LuxmiH...Thank you for the appreciated comments...

Rhodesia figured prominently in Churchill's tenure as Secretary of State for the colonies in the early 1920's...He remained friends with Smuts throughout his life...

I thought it interesting that white Rhodesians turned down his offer for full inclusion into the British Commonwealth in 1921...As a protectorate during WW1 they provided thousands of soldiers, under British command, to that war...

Following comments are for me like gold mining...every now and then I turn up a nugget of hidden or forgotten history mixed in with all the intelligent and articulate comments, and as you say so well, " like an after the show delight..."...Larry


doodlebugs profile image

doodlebugs 5 years ago from Southwest

One has to wonder what the world would look like today had Winston Churchill not have been born. It's interesting to look at how one single life, such as his, or Hitler's, changed the course of history forever.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

doodlebugs...The most important quality these individuals had was the ability to choose outstanding staff...One man alone cannot have lasting influence on a population without a highly skilled staff to implement, sustain, and develop the ideas and messages so clearly and forcefully articulated by the leader...Even Jesus Christ had his apostles...

If you like history, there is a wonderful book, Napoleon's Marshals, that shows the importance and impact of a well-chosen staff in the success of a leader's agenda...Napoleon was known for choosing the dumbest man in his army as a personal " lieutenant " to whom he read his daily orders...If the soldier didn't understand what the order meant he would rewrite the order until the " lieutenant " fully understood what was being ordered, insuring that his orders would not be misunderstood by anyone...

Thanks for the appreciated comments...Larry


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

If you haven't discovered the hubber, phdast7, you two are kindred spirits. Have a read!


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 4 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

Larry.. what an excellent review! Where is your next installment mate? I learned much of many of his quirks and brilliance from reading the reports from his appointed body guard. He really was an inspiration for many and I'm sure contributed to the saving of many lives as a result of his strategic mind. I believe he failed to warn the US of the impending attack at Pearl though... apparently to give the US their primary reason to come out and fight. Interesting tactic that clearly changed the dynamics of history.

Thank you so much for sharing this and of course your own array of talents.. Merry Christmas to you and your family, my friend and as always.. tight lines buddy!


maven101 profile image

maven101 4 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Kathleen...Thank you for the heads up...I will check him out...Larry


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

As you know, this was one of my top ten favorites (with "Alone"). Your review is right on. I've heard critics complain that Manchester pandered to the masses but I've found the three I have read (Arms of Krupp and the aforementioned) to actually increase my desire to learn more history in addition to the wealth of information in his books-- they are just so readable. And, just as important, as you mentioned, you get the warts and all with Churchill-- he also had a dark side. And the Krupps-- they weren't all bad. The truth has many shades of gray.


maven101 profile image

maven101 4 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Hi Rob...Merry Christmas to you and your family also...May the New Year be a safe and prosperous one for you and yours...

I'm not so sure Winston was in sole possession of that information re Pearl Harbor...We shared everything with the Brits up to and during that war...Strategic decisions often have unintended consequences...and, as in almost all of these decisions, there is the economic factors to be considered...War, after all, is almost always an economic decision...

Tight lines to you also, my friend...I have a lot of catching up to do here in HubPages...I have been unfortunately distracted the last month or so with some personal challenges, all of which appear resolved for the New Year...Larry


maven101 profile image

maven101 4 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Unnamed...Very interesting comments that are leading me to check out Manchester's book on the Krupps family...Yes, there is good and bad in all of us, and the historian that has the moral courage to present history that is at once readable and factual is rare...

So many have a personal agenda that slants history to agree with their perspective.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family...Larry


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 4 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

You let me know If I Can Be of Help in any respect Larry. Life is too short and good friends to scarce when there are problems with the bait! I am happy to share my lures! You Take care mate!


maven101 profile image

maven101 4 years ago from Northern Arizona Author

Rob...Just reading your caring comments makes me appreciate our enduring friendship here on HubPages...A friendship based on a mutual respect for our literary efforts and the intellectual commentary with which we engage. And when it comes to fishing, we both know that catching the fish is simply the manifestation of the larger search we all seek which is knowing what is important in life...Sometimes we have to lose something to really appreciate its value...I nearly lost something of inestimable value, but that crises is past now and my focus is on a reappraisal of those values and how I can best express my appreciation...

Thanks Rob, for your friendship and concern...Tight lines always...Larry

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