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Media Matters



Get it Right! Max’s Dad is Not WSC; WSC is Misquoted Again

ATLANTA, AUGUST 29TH— In a recent column, we attributed a quote about winning and losing to Max Cleland’s father. We withdraw the attribution. The former U.S. Senator left us a voice mail message informing us that the quote we heard him utter during a short speech in Norcross roughly twenty years ago actually belonged to Winston Churchill. Here’s the quote: “Defeat is never fatal. Victory is never final. It’s courage that counts.”

Oh well, 20 years is a long time. At least we didn’t credit the quote to Chairman Mao.


Unfortunately, Mr. Smith, we regret to advise that this is a double misquote. Not only did Churchill never say those words—he never said the similar words more usually attributed to him, which are: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” We base this on careful research in the canon of fifty million words by and about Churchill, including all of his books, articles, speeches and papers.

Churchill did say: “No one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it.” (Their Finest Hour, London: Cassell, 1949, 434). And he did say: “Success always demands a greater effort.” (Note to Robert Menzies, same volume, page 541). Max Cleland is a friend of ours…so we are sure he will by happy to learn this!

Iraq’s Dad was WSC; in a Manner of Speaking…

PORTLAND, MAINE, AUGUST 30TH— In an Iraq editorial in the Portland Press Herald, one Bob Harrison wrote: “The political entity of Iraq dates only from the early 20th century decisions by Winston Churchill and colleagues to impose a western solution on the very old problem of Mesopotamia. The ancient Sunni-Shiite enmity, familiar to even casual students of history, is rooted deeply enough to doom vastly more aggressive nation-building projects than Bush’s feeble effort.”

Mr. Harrison, you need to be a less casual student, by immersing yourself briefly in Churchill Proceedings and Finest Hour, for example.

The imposing of King Feisal on Iraq by Churchill in 1922 was not so much a “western solution” as a product of its time. Asked by Chris Matthews at our 2003 Churchill Lecture why Churchill believed a foreign monarch was the solution for Iraq, Professor David Fromkin, author of A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, replied:

“While Churchill himself was a monarchist, in the world in which he grew up, that is what you did. When it was decided, just before the First World War, to create an independent state of Albania, an intrinsic part of the thing was to find it a king….As for Feisal, there was a general feeling at the time that when you brought in a king for a new country, it ought to be somebody who is not from that country—not involved in its feuds. You look for an outsider and a unifier.” [Churchill Proceedings 2000-2003.)

Attempts to draw lessons for today in Churchill’s Iraq experience are doomed to failure, Professor David Freeman suggested in Finest Hour 132, because the situations are entirely different. “For example, everything about Britain’s Middle Eastern policy [in 1922] was based on one paramount and, as it turned out, erroneous assumption: that Britain would indefinitely control India…Thus the shape of the modern Middle East was largely determined by an assumption that became false almost as soon as the 1922 settlement had been reached.”

While the character of the inhabitants still offers food for thought, Freeman said, the judgments of 1922 are not valid eighty-five years later. 

Winston Churchill for Traders & Analysts

25 Quotes Chosen to Motivate the Financial World

Many of those who read the Chartwell Bulletin and become involved in the activities of the Churchill Centre come from the world of business and finance.  Stoic Trading has recently compiled a list of motivational quotes from Churchill testifying to the continuing attraction.  Not surprisingly, many of the quotes are in error.  While the Churchill Centre always presents quotes authenticated by reliable sources, such as Richard Langworth’s Churchill by Himself, we nevertheless share the Stoic Trader’s list here [along with our corrections] as a way of illustrating how Churchill’s example continues to find application in contemporary life. Read Now >

Quotes Falsely Attributed to Winston Churchill

These quotes make for good storytelling but popular myth has falsely attributed them to Winston Churchill

Conservative by the Time You’re 35

‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University made this comment: ‘Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35!  And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?’


“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

This quote is very often attributed to Churchill but appears nowhere in the Churchill canon.

Cross of Lorraine

“The hardest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine.”

This remark about the intractable Charles de Gaulle was actually made by General Spears, Churchill’s envoy to France.

Going Through Hell

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

We haven’t seen any correct attribution of this quote that appears frequently on the Internet and printed on motivation posters. It’s not a phrase that is contained anywhere in the canon of Winston Churchill’s written or spoken words.
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.