December 9, 2018

Award-winning historian Andrew Roberts visited the National Churchill Library and Center to discuss his major new biography Churchill: Walking with Destiny. In a one-hour interview recorded by C-SPAN, Roberts spoke with library director Michael F. Bishop and answered questions from the audience touching on many different aspects of Winston Churchill’s long life and career.

Roberts observed that he had written many books over his career in which Churchill was a major focus of the text before coming to write this new biography. Thus he felt he that he now understood what Churchill meant when he wrote about becoming prime minister in 1940: “I felt as though I were walking with destiny and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”

Praised in a review for Finest Hour by historian John Campbell as a “heroic biography,” Churchill: Walking with Destiny is the first biography to benefit from access to the private diaries of King George VI. Asked during the Q&A how he obtained the necessary permission from HM Queen Elizabeth II to examine her father’s diaries, Roberts replied that like Churchill he did not take no for an answer. He persisted until permission was given.

The results add an important new source to our understanding of Churchill, who met with the King during the war every Tuesday for lunch. No servants were present, and the two men served themselves from the sideboard. This was to guarantee absolute security, since Churchill withheld no secrets of any kind from the King. Consequently we learn that Churchill was much more frustrated by American hesitance to enter the war before the attack on Pearl Harbor than previously known but that after his first meeting with FDR in August 1941—still four months before Pearl Harbor—Churchill felt much more reassured.

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To watch the complete video with Andrew Roberts, please CLICK HERE.

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