Interview With Editor of Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence
Prof. Kimball Will Speak About “Overlord” in New Orleans
Warren Kimball, Professor of History at Rutgers University and a long-time member of The Churchill Centre’s Academic Advisors, will be among those discussing the story of Operation Overlord at the 31st International Churchill Conference. The conference is being held in conjunction with the National World War II Museum of the United States, an appropriate venue in this the 70th anniversary year of the D-Day landings. In addition to editing and publishing the complete Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence in three volumes (Princeton, 1984), Prof. Kimball is also the author of Forged in War, a study of the war-time partnership between the Prime Minister and the President. Prof. Kimball recently spoke with the Chartwell Bulletin about his work.
CB: When and how did you first develop an interest in Winston Churchill?
WK: My fascination with Churchill was a byproduct of the work I did as a graduate student on Franklin Roosevelt and the development of the Lend-Lease program. Quite obviously, part of the process was the intriguing game Churchill and Roosevelt played in 1940-41 regarding the disposition of the British fleet in the event of a successful German invasion of the British Isles.
CB: Do you have any favorite books by or about Winston Churchill?
WK: Of course the WWII “memoir”, his preemptive strike on history, is indispensable. But I rather enjoyed reading A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which told me as much about Churchill as it did about history.
CB: Do you have any favorite speeches by Winston Churchill?
WK: No. I quote him routinely, but no “favorite.”
CB: What is your favorite story involving Winston Churchill?
WK: Nothing stands out, or they all stand out equally. Stories can illuminate the person, but they rarely illuminate history. That said, I do like the it-takes-courage-to-rat-twice quip.
CB: What is it you most admire about Winston Churchill?
WK: He had the courage to admit mistakes and the grace and self-confidence not to blame bad results on others (even when others were at fault).
CB: How have you applied the example of Winston Churchill in your own life?
WK: Not in any conscious way. I am my own person; he was his. I suspect that reading work by and about him has informed my mind and my very secular “soul,” but I leave “how” to a psychoanalyst.
CB: What do you think is the relevance of Winston Churchill today?
WK: Anyone who was an active and effective public leader for as long as WSC was is, by definition, relevant for history. So I guess the question really is whether or not history is relevant. I can only paraphrase the American historian Carl Becker who wrote that history does not let us foretell the future, rather it prepares us to meet that future.