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Churchill, the End of Glory.

To tackle yet another biography of W.S.C. marks any writer as brave to the point of being rash. But John Charmley has been teaching and researching the subject at the University of East Anglia for some fifteen years, and he brings to his theme special knowledge of political detail, and a rare command of 'who wanted what' -- until 1945. His weakness is that he stops with victory in 1945. His biography is thus a story of one bold spirit in a group of men like-minded with him in capacity, intrigue and in ambition. Even Clemmie caught the tone: she described David Lloyd George as 'the direct descendant of Judas Iscariot'. It is a telling of the familiar story of the solitary youth at Harrow, of the River War, of the war correspondent who himself made news, of the quest for escapades and for newspaper articles about them and of the high reward of adventure and self-advertisement, of the Dardanelles, Gallipoli -- and of the politician in World War One whom few could totally trust.

The style of his writing follows that of A. J. P. Taylor; he is similarly heavily political and biographical, he has a cast of hundreds splendidly marshalled, and he brings a sharp cutting edge to his prose. Charmley's verdict on Churchill is harsh: the victor of 1945 was the product of decades of political plotting and of a vigorously pro-Imperial and anti-Nazi stance; yet the declared hater of Bolshevism for some 30 years in fact allowed Stalin's evil regime to dominate central and eastern Europe, with consequences we still live with. But much of this would call for a second volume: it would be a less glamorous and a more melancholy tale, and harder to tell. This volume is a splendid account of Churchill's 'Walk with Destiny', with many fresh twists and turns in the story.
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Author:Wright, Esmond
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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