June 8, 2016

Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016

Page 04

By David Freeman, April 2016

Churchill’s collection of essays Great Contemporaries remains one of his most enduringly popular books. New editions continue to be produced, and this year’s International Churchill Conference in Washington, D. C. (see back cover for details) will have as its theme “Churchill: Friends and Contemporaries.” Accordingly, for this issue we invited leading scholars to contribute fresh looks at major personalities in Churchill’s era.

Undoubtedly Churchill’s most important contemporary was President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Alonzo Hamby surveys the partnership between “Democracy’s Champions.” Sonia Purnell looks at the corresponding relationship between Clementine Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt and concludes it was more important than has been understood. Churchill’s other key American partner in the Second World War was Dwight D. Eisenhower, as Lewis Lehrman reminds us.

Two of Churchill’s most important contemporaries in the 1940s and 1950s were very different characters— and on opposite sides. D. R. Thorpe examines the trials and tribulations of Churchill’s long-suffering but loyal heir apparent Anthony Eden. And although Aneurin Bevan is best remembered today as the founder of Britain’s National Health Service, John Campbell explains that the finest hour of Churchill’s bête-noir also came during the war.

Not all of Churchill’s great contemporaries were people that he knew or even met. In our autumn issue we looked at Anne Frank’s admiration for Churchill. Another fan was the biggest movie star of the century. Aissa Wayne tells us how her father, John Wayne, considered Churchill to be one of his heroes.

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We continue to follow the centenary of the events of the First World War. This spring and summer mark the hundredth anniversaries of two of the largest British operations of the Great War, one on sea and one on land. Churchill was involved in neither but wrote about both in his mammoth history The World Crisis. We asked two military historians to evaluate how he did. Stephen McLaughlin looks at Jutland, and Robin Prior examines the Somme.

And the books keep coming. Catherine Katz reports on the rising phenomenon of books published exclusively in electronic format and finds both strengths and weaknesses. Print still endures, however, and we have reviews of a dozen new books to prove it. Chief among these is Churchill’s Trial by Larry Arnn, the President of Hillsdale College. Finally, Robert Courts reviews the newest dramatization of Churchill on film and discovers “hope is what makes the difference.”

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