The first volume in William Manchester's masterful, magnum opus account of Winston Churchill's life. The Last Lion: Visions of Glory follows the first fifty-eight years of Churchill's life--the years that mold him into the man who will become one of the most influential politicians of the twentieth century.
In this, the first volume, Manchester follows Churchill from his birth to 1932, when he began to warn against the re-militarization of Germany. Born of an American mother and the gifted but unstable son of a duke, his childhood was one of wretched neglect. He sought glory on the battlefields of Cuba, Sudan, India, South Africa and the trenches of France. In Parliament he was the prime force behind the creation of Iraq and Jordan, laid the groundwork for the birth of Israel, and negotiated the independence of the Irish Free State. Yet, as Chancellor of the Exchequer he plunged England into economic crisis, and his fruitless attempt to suppress Gandhi's quest for Indian independence brought political chaos to Britain.
Throughout, Churchill learned the lessons that would prepare him for the storm to come, and as the 1930's began, he readied himself for the coming battle against Nazism--an evil the world had never before seen.
Before his death in 2004, an ill Manchester asked former Cox newspapers journalist Reid to take his research notes and finish writing the final volume of his trilogy. The long-delayed majestic account of Winston Churchill's last 25 years is worth the wait. Sixty-five when he became Britain's prime minister in 1940, Churchill remained a Victorian aristocrat, self-indulgent, coddled by servants. Yet his vitality, charisma, and self-assurance made him a perfect leader in a crisis. During his first year, when Britain fought Nazi Germany alone, Churchill, say the authors, may have saved civilization. Once the U.S.S.R. and U.S. joined, Britain's role declined but not Churchill's energy. While FDR left war to his generals, Churchill poured out ideas, many of them imaginative failures (the bloody landing at Anzio) or simply bad (early opposition to invading France). Despite Churchill's unparalleled popularity, his Conservative party was defeated in July 1945. Though devastated, Churchill remained the party leader, returning to office in 1951 to preside over a declining empire and escalating cold war until a repeatedly postponed retirement in 1955. Manchester (and Reid) matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris, joining this elite bank of writers who devote their lives to one subject. 32 pages of b&w photos, 6 maps.
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The Last Lion
I recommend this entire series to anyone interested in one of the greatest men in modern history. Churchill was right about just about everything from socialism, Bolshevism, Nazi's to how to best run a country. Read this and then read the other 2 Alone and Defender of the Realm.
Just couldn't do it
I really wanted to like this book and really tried to but just couldn't get into it. Found his language too much and his obvious adulation overbearing.