Written and read by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, this book is an in-depth study of what made Winston Churchill great. Until his death, in 1965, Winston Churchill was a man larger than life. There were those that supported him and those that maligned him, but today, he is renowned and revered for his analysis of world conditions and for his predictions of what was to come from events and decisions made in his time that would eventually affect the future of the entire world. Boris Johnson is a great admirer of Churchill and he has spent countless hours researching this magnificent man. Churchill often exaggerated the facts and insisted that he was right. He preferred to speak in simple language to the people, so they would understand his message. Johnson captures Hitler and Churchill to a “t”, and, as the author states, “Hitler made you think he could do anything, but Churchill made you think you could do anything!” Churchill’s speeches were magnificent even if he was not the greatest orator. He didn’t mince words, and he made his feelings widely known with masterful speeches. The book is an absolutely brilliant rendering of the man who quite possibly saved Europe from German rule, according to the author who believes that Churchill’s decisions made it possible to have a world without Hitler. If, like his enemies, he had wanted to pursue a policy of appeasement, Europe would have fallen under that madman’s control.
According to Johnson, Churchill’s foresight and courage inspired the Allies to victory. Although he could be crude, rude and brash, he had heart. He implemented social programs and work programs to help the poor. He was a Tory than a Liberal than a Tory again. He was married to the same woman for over 60 years and their love never faltered, although there are rumors of infidelity that were never proven. He was a drinker, but held his liquor well. He was a man with a great sense of humor; the witticisms mentioned will have the reader laughing out loud, although the author disclaims some that are attributed to him incorrectly.
Churchill was a man unconcerned with his appearance, often covered with cigar ash, a man with his own fashion sense which did not move with fashion trends, a man who spoke his mind and accumulated many enemies along the way, a man who believed he could move mountains and was more often right than wrong and eventually was deservedly well-regarded by many, although he was never without rivals. Unfortunately, when WWII ended, he received little credit, rather, he was booted out and replaced, but he remained humble in his defeats and never truly gave up trying to reenter the fray. His influence on the geopolitical stage is still felt today. He was prescient in his analysis of many situations and was a staunch supporter of maintaining strong ties with America and remaining an enemy of Communism. Churchill’s fingerprints are all over the last century and their effects are felt in this one. His speeches maintain relevancy even today.
The book is read so beautifully by the author who paints a portrait of an outstanding man willing to buck the standards of the day and march to the beat of his own drummer for the safety and security of England. His colorful presentation of this remarkable man, complete with the real and the fabled stores about him, is mesmerizing. His writing style enhances Churchill as a human being, one who demanded for himself and others, steadfastness and strength in the face of adversity. His portrayal of Churchill and Clementine’s relationship is both romantic and touching. He draws a picture of a couple that shared a deep love and devotion for many years.
The book is written almost as an ongoing conversation with the reader. The descriptive vocabulary assumes far more than a grade school education. It is written with a sophisticated knowledge of the English language, on a level not often seen today in books for the general public. He does not pander to the reader with slang or crude expressions. If foul language is used it is pertinent or it is a quote. He recites some parts of Churchill’s speeches and his presentation of the man tends to the lyrical and is often humorous. I can’t make enough positive remarks about this book, its content, its prose and its reader.