February 19, 2015

Finest Hour 161, Winter 2013-14

Page 4

Official Biography

May we have an update on the difficulties encountered in completing the remaining Companion Volumes of Sir Martin Gilbert’s masterwork? Mr. Allen Packwood has said that he feels the interest in and knowledge of WSC is perhaps waning. The years pass and the audience is depleted by death. Please accept my compliments. Finest Hour is an excellent read.

Editor’s response: Thanks for the kind words. As you know, Sir Martin’s illness (Finest Hour 158: 9) has prevented his continued active collaboration and added to the delays. We have however received good news from Mr. Soren Geiger, research assistant to President Larry Arnn at Hillsdale, who wrote on 7 October: “By mid-October, the research team at Hillsdale College expects to send to the press Volume 17 of The Churchill Documents, covering the year 1942. The goal for the completion of the remaining volumes is the summer of 2016.”

Dreadnoughts and All That

Do you know the book Fisher, Churchill and the Dardanelles by Geoffrey Penn? It is very anti-Churchill. Also, I must say that it does not make a very easy read.

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Editor’s Response: It was reviewed by the naval historian Barry Gough in Finest Hour 107, Summer 2001. Professor Gough did not give it high marks: “Penn is critical of the received view of historians on Fisher, but he errs in failing to cite them specifically or to analyze their perspectives. Arthur Marder’s distinguished work on this subject, though mentioned, seems set aside. Penn’s judgement invariably supports Fisher against Churchill, and readers will find this a persistent problem. However, toward the end of the book Churchill gets his due and is partially salvaged. This work lacks rigorous analysis and is a heavy read.”

Christopher Bell’s Churchill and Sea Power (reviewed FH 158) is much more balanced and reflective. So is Gough’s Historical Dreadnoughts (FH 151), which contrasts the conclusions of the two great naval historians, Marder and Roskill.

Defending Baboons?

I was astonished to hear in a recent lecture that Winston Churchill once proposed to guarantee the Bolshevik Revolution. Is this true?

Editor’s response: Yes! Martin Gilbert published this in Churchill: A Life (1991): After Lenin seized power and took Russia out of World War I, Churchill proposed sending what he called a “commissar” to Moscow (he nominated Theodore Roosevelt). And there, in exchange for Lenin agreeing to re-enter the war, the Allies would “safeguard the permanent fruits of the Revolution”! From my paper on Churchill and the pre-FDR Presidents, Washington Conference, 2013:

“Churchill explained that ‘Lenin and Trotsky are fighting with ropes round their necks. They will leave office for the grave. Show them any real chance of consolidating their power…and they would be non-human not to embrace it.’”

Churchill’s radical notion proved rather too imaginative for his colleagues, and he soon concluded that the Bolsheviks actually were non-human after all. “Baboons” was his preferred expression. But the incident serves to display how singleminded he was about defeating the enemy at hand—and the depth of his regard for Theodore Roosevelt.

Sir Martin told me he first broke this astounding revelation in a Moscow lecture to an audience of high-ranking Soviet officers. “You could have heard a pin drop,” he said.

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