Winston Churchill is an icon of modern history, but even though he was
at the forefront of the political scene for almost sixty years, he might be
remembered only as a minor player in the drama of British government had it
not been for World War II. In this magisterial book, Roy Jenkins's
unparalleled command of the political history of Britain and his own
high-level experience combine in a narrative account of Churchill's
astounding career that is unmatched in its shrewd insights, its
unforgettable anecdotes, the clarity of its overarching themes, and the
author's nuanced appreciation of his extraordinary subject.
From a very young age, Churchill believed he was destined to play a
great role in the life of his nation, and he determined to prepare himself.
Jenkins shows in fascinating detail how Churchill educated himself for
greatness, how he worked out his livelihood (writing) as well as his
professional life (politics), how he situated himself at every major site or
moment in British imperial and governmental life. His parliamentary career
was like no other -- with its changes of allegiance (from the Conservative
to the Liberal and back to the Conservative Party), its troughs and
humiliations, its triumphs and peaks-and for decades almost no one besides
his wife discerned the greatness to come. Jenkins effortlessly evokes the
spirit of Westminster through all these decades, especially the crisis years
of the late 1930s and the terrifying 1940s, when at last it was clear how
vital Churchill was to the very survival of England. He evaluates
Churchill's other accomplishments, his writings, with equal authority.
Exceptional in its breadth of knowledge and distinguished in its
stylish wit and penetrating intelligence, this is one of the finest
political biographies of our time.