Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015
Review by Paul H. Courtenay
Ian S. Wood, Churchill: A Pictorial History of His Life and Times, G2 Entertainment, 2015, 194 pages, £12.99.
Ian S. Wood is a professor of History whose principal expertise is on Merovingian rule over the Franks (whose territory covered most of modern France plus much of northwest Europe) during the 300 years from the mid-fifth century AD. Despite this narrow field, he has strayed into the world of Winston Churchill before, having previously published Britain, Ireland and the Second World War (2010) and a respectable study simply called Churchill (2000).
This new work, though, is clearly intended for coffee tables in the fiftieth-anniversary year of Churchill’s death. It consists of eighty-one illustrations; of these, only thirty-four are of Churchill himself, of which eight are unfamiliar. The text is unexceptional and covers the outline of the subject’s life in some seventy-five pages; these deal with the main points with only a few questionable opinions.
Despite the brevity of the text, however, there was some careless proofreading. Numerous minor errors undermine the reader’s confidence in what the author wishes to say. A few examples: in 1893 Sandhurst was the Royal Military College (not the Royal Military Academy); Clementine was not the daughter of the Earl of Airlie (he was her maternal grandfather); German currency in 1923 was not the Deutschemark (which did not appear till 1948); “Lady Mary Soames” (the author should have known better); Paris’s “Arc de Triumphs” (Aaaargh!) Taken as a whole, one is tempted to ask: “What was the point of publishing such an unnecessary book?”