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Churchill: A Biography



As a Liberal, Churchill attacked government policy and gained a reputation as a radical under the influences of John Morley and David Lloyd George.[22] In December 1905, Balfour resigned as Prime Minister and King Edward VII invited the Liberal leader Henry Campbell-Bannerman to take his place.[83] Hoping to secure a working majority in the House of Commons, Campbell-Bannerman called a general election in January 1906, which the Liberals won.[84] Churchill won the Manchester North West seat.[85] In the same month, his biography of his father was published;[86] he received an advance payment of 8,000.[87] It was generally well received.[88] It was also at this time that the first biography of Churchill himself, written by the Liberal Alexander MacCallum Scott, was published.[89]




Churchill: A Biography



Hoping that the Labour government could be ousted, he gained Baldwin's approval to work towards establishing a Conservative-Liberal coalition, although many Liberals were reluctant.[240] In October 1930, after his return from a trip to North America, Churchill published his autobiography, My Early Life, which sold well and was translated into multiple languages.[243]


Albert Mohler: This is Thinking in Public, a program dedicated to intelligent conversation about frontline theological and cultural issues with the people who are shaping them. I am Albert Mohler, your host, and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Andrew Roberts is one of the best-known biographers and historians writing in the English speaking world today. He's the Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has served in so many other capacities on both sides of the Atlantic. One of his more recent books includes a magisterial biography of Napoleon titled Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West. But today we're going to talk about his most recent work, his massive biography of Winston Churchill, Churchill: Walking with Destiny. Andrew Roberts, welcoming to Thinking in Public. Mr. Roberts, when you're thinking about Winston Churchill, you're talking about an individual of whom I think by your own count there are now at least 1,010 biographies. What kind of determination does it take to write the 1,010th?


Albert Mohler: Regardless of all the others, you might say, but your own. Many of us have been hoping you would write this kind of biography, especially after, and by the way, I've read all your books going all the way back to your work on Lord Halifax. But especially after your magisterial biography of Napoleon. Many of us had hoped you would do the same for Churchill with whom you've been walking as a historian and biographer for a very long time already.


Albert Mohler: Winston Churchill's been something of a constant companion in my life since I was at least thirteen. And in my own library, I have over seven hundred volumes of... by and about Churchill. I'm kind of a hard sell on something new, and I mean this as no flattery, but I think yours is the best one-volume works on Churchill yet to be published. Partly, as I think we'll discuss, because of the source material that you so skillfully used. Part of it because you are one of the rarest of biographers and historians who can actually tell a story well, and that ability to narrate is important. But I felt something else in this. And, I felt it a bit in Napoleon, and in your other previous works as well. I want to ask you to what extent does having sympathy, some kind of real sense of connection to the subject of a biography like this matter?


Andrew Roberts: I'm thinking of actually writing a biography, my next book on his great ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. I know that he's not heard of very much in the States, and that's one of the reasons my publishers are a little bit wary of it, but nonetheless, I think the first Churchill might be a title that American readers would like. What do you think?


Albert Mohler: I would encourage it. Especially with that title, The First Churchill. Oddly, and kind of sadly enough, there's a ridiculous major motion picture right now in the United States about Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill. In an unfortunate way perhaps there will be some Americans more aware of his historical existence, and then you can come along and write a magisterial biography to make it matter.


Albert Mohler: I think one of the other achievements of your book is more melancholy, heartrending, and I knew the contours of the story, of course. Of Churchill and his parents, I'd even looked at a lot of the material in the archives. I've read a lot of the letters. The poignancy there. I think you, perhaps, more than any other modern biographer have really unpacked the relationship between Winston and Sir Randolph Churchill, his father. And, one of the greatest lines in your book is where I think you're quoting Violet Bonham Carter who said that Churchill worshiped at the altar of his unknown father. That's one of the most heartbreaking lines I know from any modern biography.


Andrew Roberts: That's right, exactly. You've got it right. He thought that the Sermon on the Mount was as he put it, "the last word in ethics." He admired... He used the phrase savior once, but otherwise, in the 5.2 million words that he wrote and the 6.1 million words that he spoke, he never uttered the words, Jesus Christ. So, one can't... He didn't believe in the divinity of Christ. However, he did believe in the splendor and the glory of everything that Christ said and did. It was, unfortunately for Anglicans like me, and he was an Anglican as well, you can't actually get Churchill and Christianity together. But, he did have a sense of Almighty, as we mentioned earlier. Also, a sense of what he called in his autobiography, Religion of Healthy-Mindedness, which consisted of taking care of the poor and the weak, and lots of other things that of course the Sermon on the Mount also covers. So, although he wasn't an actual Christian, he did subscribe to the ethics of Christianity which is, you know, you're halfway there really, aren't you?


Albert Mohler (Postscript): I began this conversation with Andrew Roberts about his new and wonderful biography of Winston Churchill by looking at the subtitle, Walking with Destiny. That rightly defined Winston Churchill's life. As we said in the beginning though, it establishes a tremendous distance from our own times and his.


At the conclusion of his 982 pages, his page-turning biography of Winston Churchill, Churchill: Walking with Destiny, Roberts concludes with these words: "His hero John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, won great battles and built Blenheim Palace. His other hero, Napoleon won even more battles and built an empire. Winston Churchill did better than either of them. The battles he won saved Liberty."


One of the world's great historians has written a biography of the man who is one of the immense figures of the last century. And perhaps surprisingly, the book is short. Just 192 pages. It is pungent, pointed and eloquent, like some gorgeous, highly-distilled liqueur. Host Scott Simon speaks with author Paul Johnson about this revealing biography, titled, Churchill.


One of the world's great historians has written a biography of the man who is one of the immense figures of the last century. And perhaps surprisingly, the book is short, just 192 pages. No surprise, because it's by Paul Johnson. It's a pungent, pointed and eloquent book, like some gorgeous, highly distilled liqueur. The book is called Churchill.


Churchill recognized that such a course would mean the enslavement of Britain along with the rest of Europe. It simply could not be permitted to happen. So, on May 28, in a brilliant political coup de grace, Churchill forced the issue with his ministers and in one rhetorical flourish put to rest all cowardly defeatism. Martin Gilbert recounts this historic meeting in his unrivaled one-volume biography, Churchill: A Life. After admitting to his cabinet that he had weighed "whether it was part of my duty to consider entering into negotiations with That Man," Churchill next listed everything that would befall Britain in consequence. He then spoke with fire in his eyes: "I am convinced that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground." The ministers were instantly united. "I am sure," Churchill later wrote, "that every Minister was ready to be killed quite soon, and have all his family and possessions destroyed, rather than give in." 041b061a72


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