Finest Hour 155, Summer 2012
Churchill’s Secret Skills
Churchill’s Secret Skills, by Binden Shovel; Winston Churchill: An American Idol by Leonard SpencerLewis. Kernel & Warden, softbound, 250 pages, $14.95.
By Binden Shovel
Speaking of worse ways to spend a fiver (or more), we read these so you don’t have to. Paperbacks published in 2009 and 2010 respectively, they appear to be one and the same. Indeed, a short way into American Idol (which has nothing to do with the popular TV show and is apparently deployed to sell books in America), “Spencer-Lewis” publishes an office memo of his (complete with expletives), forgetting to omit his real name, that of our first author (if this really is his name).
Apparently self-published, the books are ostensibly self-help guides for career professionals. They contain stunningly obvious observations about Churchill’s life interspersed with stories from the author’s life as a businessman. The author has read The Second World War, but otherwise does not seem to know much about Churchill. Many of his statements are either laughably silly or just wrong. The comparisons he draws between Churchill’s leadership and his own experiences as a salesmen are so guffaw-inducing that they almost seem intentionally humorous. WSC is treated as a familiar (“Winston”), as is the President of the United States, whose name is spelled “Barrack.” The rampant typos suggest the absence of an editor.
Paraphrasing Churchill, I like the martial and commanding air with which the author treats apostrophes…he stands no nonsense from them. Thus the possessive “its” becomes “it’s” and vice-versa, the possessive “company’s” becomes “companies,” and so on.
There is no way to sugar-coat the fact that these are simply the kind of books that beg the question: why? There is some good in everything, and the author does convey, however lamely, an appreciation for Churchill’s scintillating war memos taken from the back of WSC’s six volumes—which are reprinted wholesale, no doubt without permission. The diet of truly atrocious English is relieved only by the truly splendid English of Winston Churchill. But that is no reason to spend $15, which after all would buy a very high-class hamburger.