A vivid and incisive portrait of Winston Churchill during wartime from acclaimed historian Max Hastings, Winston’s War captures the full range of Churchill’s endlessly fascinating character. At once brilliant and infuriating, self-important and courageous, Hastings’s Churchill comes brashly to life as never before.
Beginning in 1940, when popular demand elevated Churchill to the role of prime minister, and concluding with the end of the war, Hastings shows us Churchill at his most intrepid and essential, when, by sheer force of will, he kept Britain from collapsing in the face of what looked like certain defeat. Later, we see his significance ebb as the United States enters the war and the Soviets turn the tide on the Eastern Front. But Churchill, Hastings reminds us, knew as well as anyone that the war would be dominated by others, and he managed his relationships with the other Allied leaders strategically, so as to maintain Britain’s influence and limit Stalin’s gains.
At the same time, Churchill faced political peril at home, a situation for which he himself was largely to blame. Hastings shows how Churchill nearly squandered the miraculous escape of the British troops at Dunkirk and failed to address fundamental flaws in the British Army. His tactical inaptitude and departmental meddling won him few friends in the military, and by 1942, many were calling for him to cede operational control. Nevertheless, Churchill managed to exude a public confidence that brought the nation through the bitter war.
Hastings rejects the traditional Churchill hagiography while still managing to capture what he calls Churchill’s “appetite for the fray.” Certain to be a classic, Winston’s War is a riveting profile of one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century.
Military historian Hastings (Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944 45) adds to his illustrious reputation with this magnificent analysis of Winston Churchill s years of greatness. In 1938 Churchill seemed a man bypassed by history. By 1945 he had become the greatest war leader Britain ever knew and has since achieved mythic status, standing higher than any other single human being at the head of the forces of light. During WWII Churchill wielded more power than any British prime minister in history but remained a democrat. He raised his nation far higher in the Grand Alliance than its material contributions justified. Hastings recognizes Churchill s strategic errors, his misplaced enthusiasms. Britain smilitary leaders and military systems often disappointed his soaring hopes. His understanding of the empire and its peoples was limited and unenlightened. His indifference to building a new society resulted in his being turned out of office as the guns fell silent. But the outcome justified all, in his eyes. Churchill s strength of will, rhetoric, and personality enabled the British to understand the reasons for their sacrifices and made Britain s end as a great power a heroic one. 32 pages of photos, 8 maps.