During the Second World War, Winston Churchill won two resounding victories. The first was a victory over Nazi Germany, the second a victory over the sceptics who had excluded him from high office. In this incisive biography, Paul Addison examines the life of the most iconic figure in twentieth-century British history, and also the continuing battle over his reputation.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill won two resounding victories. The first was a victory over Nazi Germany, the second a victory over the legion of sceptics who had derided his judgement, denied his claims to greatness, and excluded him from high office on the grounds that he was sure to be a danger to King and Country. Churchill was the only British politician of the twentieth century to become an enduring national hero. The curious thing is that it happened at the age of 65, at a time when he was considered to be a spent force, with a track-record of disastrous decisions. All but the most hostile of his adversaries conceded that he possessed great abilities, remarkable eloquence, and a streak of genius. But it was almost universally agreed that he was a shameless egotist, an opportunist without principles or convictions, an unreliable colleague, an erratic policy-maker who lacked judgement, and a reckless amateur strategist with a dangerous passion for war and bloodshed. At one time or another in his career, he had offended every party and faction in the land, yet despite this he became the embodiment of national unity, an uncrowned king who threatened to eclipse the monarchy. In this incisive new biography, Paul Addison tells the story of Churchill's life in parallel with the history of his reputation. He seeks to explain why Churchill was transformed into a national hero, and why his heroic status has endured ever since in spite of the attempts of iconoclasts to debunk him. He argues that we are now in a position to reach beyond the mythology - both positive and negative - to see the real Winston Churchill, a warrior-statesman whose qualities were remarkably consistent through all the vicissitudes of his career.