Shortly after his return from Fulton, Churchill began to write his war memoirs. With a team of researchers working on his behalf, and a very ordered (if somewhat laborious) approach to drafting and editing, he soon had the first volume finished. appeared in six volumes between 1948 and 1954.
Churchill never claimed the memoirs were ‘history’; they were rather a contribution to history. Although their very breadth and coverage gave the impression that they were a definitive account, there were omissions, of course. was Churchill’s interpretation of the events, the work of a man seeking to place his role in the war – and in history. The books sold well, with a combined first printing of over 800,000 copies.
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By his twenty-fifth birthday, in November 1899, Churchill had published two books based on his newspaper assignments (The Story of the Malakand Field Force and The River War), had a novel appearing in serial form (Savrola, in Macmillan’s Magazine between May and December 1899) and had become the highest paid journalist in the world. By the end of 1900, with Savrola, his first (and only) novel, London to Ladysmith and Ian Hamilton’s March all publishing in that year, his total of published books was five.
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The American novelist was, in fact, famous earlier and much better known that his British counterpart; his novel Richard Carvel (1899) sold around two million copies. Later novels, The Crisis (1901) and The Crossing (1904) were also very popular. The two are still occasionally confused, mostly by sellers of second-hand books (having ‘Churchill’ as the author of books with similar titles – The Crisis and The World Crisis – doesn’t help).
Interestingly, both Churchills shared a lot in common; both had political careers, both were noted amateur painters, both attended military colleges and served (during the same period) as officers in the armed forces (the American Churchill was in the navy).
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I have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it.
Churchill, My Early Life, writing about his only novel Savrola
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Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016 Page 04 By David Freeman, November 2016 Winston Churchill crossed the Atlantic more times than most people did before the age of jet travel. His connections with North America spanned his whole life from his first visit at the age of twenty to his last visit more than sixty years […]
Finest Hour 173, Summer 2016 Page 44 Linda Stoker, Churchill’s Shadow, Beswick and Beswick, 2015, 1114 KB, $7.57. ASIN: B0150XHGRG Portrayal of Churchill * Worth Reading ** Warren Adler and James C. Humes, Target Churchill, Stonehouse Press, 2013, 318 pages, $15.95. ISBN: 978–1590061183 Portrayal of Churchill ** Worth Reading ** Review by Michael McMenamin Michael […]
Finest Hour 173, Summer 2016 Page 32 By João Carlos Espada João Carlos Espada is the director and founder of the Institute for Political Studies at the Catholic University of Portugal. This article is extracted from his new book The Anglo-American Tradition of Liberty: A View from Europe (Routledge, 2016). Winston Churchill was indeed the […]
Finest Hour 173, Summer 2016 Page 20 By Magnús Erlendsson Magnús Erlendsson was born on 10 May 1931. He is a retired businessman and politician and an avid amateur historian with a deep interest in Winston Churchill and the Second World War. Winston Churchill was my boyhood hero and has since become for me a […]
Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016
Churchill as a Literary Character: WSC in Fiction
Review by Michael McMenamin
Mark Woodburn, The Finest Years & Me, Valley Press, 2015, 320 pages, $13.00. ISBN 978-1908853561
Portrayal of Churchill ***
Worth Reading **
The Finest Years & Me is a sequel of sorts to Mark Woodburn’s excellent first novel Winston & Me [reviewed FH 160] that featured a young fifteen-year-old Scottish hero Jamie Melville, who lies about his age to enlist in the Army and ends up in Churchill’s battalion in 1915. Jamie and his age eventually come to Churchill’s attention in an unfortunate way when Churchill’s batman is wounded and Jamie is chosen to take his place. Churchill takes the young man under his wing, and Jamie repays the kindness by saving Churchill’s life when he gets entangled on barbed wire in No-Man’s Land. When Churchill returns to politics in 1916, he takes Jamie with him as an assistant, a position he holds until 1919, when he left to join his brothers in the family business.
Flash forward to February 1942, where The Finest Years & Me begins. We learn through flashbacks that Jamie has remained a close friend of Churchill and Clementine over the years and that he is a widower with three daughters. America is in the war, but things are not going well for Churchill. Hong Kong and Singapore have fallen and, at home, Beaverbrook and Cripps see themselves as Churchill’s replacement. Winston’s spirits are at low ebb, and Clementine decides that her husband needs at his side a loyal friend Read More >
Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016
Review by Catherine Katz
All of the books described in this review can be found through online sites such as Amazon.
There are various statistics floating around in the public domain that predict the demise of print books. In 2011, Amazon reported that e-books outsold print books for the first time. There is likely a ceiling, however, on the number of people who prefer e-books to print books, and as a result the print book industry remains healthy and has more recently outpaced e-book sales. Given this audience’s historical inclination and sympathy for the traditional, most subscribers to Finest Hour likely fall into the camp that prefers print.
Despite this preference, e-publishing is not just a wilderness of insipidity. It can provide the Churchill diehard with the ability to enjoy out-of-print books that are otherwise difficult to access outside university libraries. One such work is a 1941 classic by British barrister and witty historical and travel writer Philip Guedalla. Mr. Churchill has now been made available for Kindle for the first time by leading digital publisher Endeavour Press.
Those who have enjoyed Churchill’s own tales of his early adventures in My Early Life and From London to Ladysmith via Pretoria will no doubt relish Guedalla’s account of Churchill’s years before he became Prime Minister. Guedalla emphasizes the long shadow of Lord Randolph’s influence on his son’s early years in politics and places the future Prime Minister firmly within the context of his family’s dramatic history. The author is perhaps at his best when articulating Churchill’s discomfort with the political upheaval in the years following the Great War.
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Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016 Page 24 By Aissa Wayne My father had two great heroes. One was John Ford, the legendary film director who propelled him into stardom. The other was Winston Churchill. Due to his public image as a laconic cowboy, few people knew that my father enjoyed intellectual pastimes. He played chess […]
Finest Hour 171, Winter 2016
The River War: Churchill’s Firsthand Account of the Charge at Omdurman
Lines printed in bold italics appeared in the first edition of The River War but not in later editions.
As the 21st Lancers left the ridge, the fire of the Arab riflemen on the hill ceased. We advanced at a walk in mass for about 300 yards. The scattered parties of Dervishes fell back and melted away, and only one straggling line of men in dark blue waited motionless a quarter of a mile to the left front. They were scarcely a hundred strong. I marvelled at their temerity. The regiment formed into line of squadron columns, and continued at a walk until within 300 yards of this small body of Dervishes. I wondered what possessed them. Perhaps they wanted to surrender. The firing behind the ridges had stopped. There was complete silence, intensified by the recent tumult. Far beyond the thin blue row of Dervishes the fugitives were visible streaming into Omdurman. And should these few devoted men impede a regiment? Yet it were wiser to examine their position from the other flank before slipping a squadron at them. The heads of the squadron wheeled slowly to the left, and the Lancers, breaking into a trot, began to cross the Dervish front in column of troops. Thereupon and with one accord the blue-clad men dropped on their knees, and there burst out a loud, crackling fire of musketry. It was hardly possible to miss such a target at such a range. Horses and men fell at once. The only course was Read More >