In this stirring book, Martin Gilbert tells the intensely human story of Winston Churchill's profound connection to America, a relationship that resulted in an Anglo-American alliance that has stood at the center of international relations for more than a century.
Winston Churchill, whose mother, Jennie Jerome, the daughter of a leading American entrepreneur, was born in Brooklyn in 1854, spent much of his seventy adult years in close contact with the United States. In two world wars, his was the main British voice urging the closest possible cooperation with the United States. From before the First World War, he understood the power of the United States, the "gigantic boiler," which, once lit, would drive the great engine forward.
Sir Martin Gilbert was appointed Churchill's official biographer in 1968 and has ever since been collecting archival and personal documentation that explores every twist and turn of Churchill's relationship with the United States, revealing the golden thread running through it of friendship and understanding despite many setbacks and disappointments. Drawing on this extensive store of Churchill's own words -- in his private letters, his articles and speeches, and press conferences and interviews given to American journalists on his numerous journeys throughout the United States -- Gilbert paints a rich portrait of the Anglo-American relationship that began at the turn of the last century.
Churchill first visited the United States in 1895, when he was twenty-one. During that first visit, he was invited to West Point and was fascinated by New York City. "What an extraordinary people the Americans are!" he wrote to his mother. "This is a very great country, my dear Jack," he told his brother. During three subsequent visits before the Second World War, he traveled widely and formed a clear understanding of both the physical and moral strength of Americans.
During the First World War, Churchill was Britain's Minister of Munitions, working closely with his American counterpart Bernard Baruch to secure the material needed for the joint war effort, and argued with his colleagues that it would be a grave mistake to launch a renewed assault before the Americans arrived.
Churchill's historic alliance with Franklin Roosevelt during the Second World War is brilliantly portrayed here with much new material, as are his subsequent ties with President Truman, which contributed to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.
In his final words to his Cabinet in 1955, on the eve of his retirement as Prime Minister, Churchill gave his colleagues this advice: "Never be separated from the Americans."
In Churchill and America, Gilbert explores how Churchill's intense rapport with this country resulted in no less than the liberation of Europe and the preservation of European democracy and freedom. It also set the stage for the ongoing alliance that has survived into the twenty-first century.
In many ways, Winston Churchill embodied the "special relationship" between America and Britain his mother was American, and he admired the country even before he courted the United States' assistance during WWII. In this thoroughly researched, consistently enjoyable study, Gilbert the statesman's official biographer covers the subject with his usual diligence and rigor, from the American roots of Churchill's mother to his first visit to the U.S. in 1895 and on to the end of his life. Historically, the most important connections were between Churchill and the two WWII presidents, Roosevelt and Truman, and the book is filled with detail on the war years, especially his indefatigable efforts to get America involved in the war. He tells his son, "I shall drag the United States in." But it's just as interesting to discover how Churchill embraced America so early in his life, not of necessity but out of temperament. In a letter home during his very first visit, he notes American vulgarity, but adds, "I think... that vulgarity is a sign of strength." This is a fascinating story, straightforward and well told, of one of the 20th century's most important leaders and the critical connection he forged between the world's fading superpower and its rising one. Photos and maps not seen by PW.