One month and eight books down! As noted previously, I am obsessed with Winston Churchill. The man was fascinating. No single 20th century figure looms larger over the Western world than Churchill. The story of his life ensures that any biography will be an entertaining read. This particular volume is relatively short, with 346 pages of text and roughly another 100 of Notes and References. Compare that to the excellent single volume biography by Roy Jenkins (1000 pages), William Manchester’s two-volume (so far) The Last Lion (roughly 900 pages each), or the massive official biography by Randolph Churchill and Martin Gilbert (8 volumes and a dozen companions). If you want a biography that gives you every detail of Churchill’s life, Rose’s book is not for you. It does include several interesting anecdotes that I had not read in other sources. The difficulty in writing a shorter biography of Churchill is deciding how many pages to spend on the different periods of his life. Rose’s book gives roughly equal space to all phases of Churchill’s life and career. The result is that some chapters give far less detail than desired (specifically the WW2 and post-war chapters). Ultimately, I would only recommend Rose’s book to people who have read numerous other Churchill biographies. Rose’s goal from beginning to end is to show the ‘other side’ of Churchill, the unpredictable and unreliable genius whose one paramount triumph overshadows his numerous failures. I do not think that Churchill is perfect. He made many, many mistakes. My complaint with Rose is that in his effort to avoid hagiography he has produced a negatively skewed book. It is a good book for Churchill fanatics that need to be reminded that Winston is human, but is not a fair portrait of one of history’s great individuals.
The Current Count:
8 Read, 92 To Go
Andie Newton said:
I enjoy reading about Churchill as well. And I agree, if your going to read a bio, you need to read more then one (if not two or three) about the same person.
Multiple biographies are definitely the best way to get a rounded picture of a particular figure. Thanks for the comment!
I enjoy reading biographies a lot, too. I still have the Jenkins biography of Churchill on the shelf, unread, among some others (Thomas Edison, Vince Lombardi).
And of course, the third part of the T.R. biography by Edmund Morris. I was so looking forward for that one, and now I can’t get myself to begin reading it because I know at the end of it there will be no more about Roosevelt written by Morris.
That’s the sad thing with biographies: You get to know and like the person you read about, and at the end of the book, when you think: I really want to meet that man!, he dies.
I couldn’t have said it better! I always dread the last two chapters in any biography because you don’t want to see a person you have come to care about suffer the inevitable decline and demise that comes in every biography.
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